Planetary Science News

New Model Could Offer an Explanation for Cracks on Icy Moons

May 26, 2016

1 Comment

New Research Model Could Offer an Explanation for Cracks on Icy Moons

Astronomers at the University of Rochester have developed a new model that could offer a new explanation as to how cracks on icy moons, such as Pluto’s Charon, formed. Until now, it was thought that the cracks were the result of geodynamical processes, such as plate tectonics, but the models run by Alice Quillen and […]

Continue reading...

Hubble Telescope Close-up of the Red Planet

May 23, 2016

0 Comments

Hubble Close-up of the Red Planet

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers captured this striking image of Mars, when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth. The photo reveals details as small as 20 miles to 30 miles across. On May 30th, Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth in 11 years, at a distance of 46.8 […]

Continue reading...

Europa’s Ocean May Contain the Necessary Balance of Chemical Energy for Life

May 18, 2016

0 Comments

Chemical Balance for Life May Exist in Europa's Ocean

New research from NASA reveals that Europa’s ocean may contain the necessary balance of chemical energy for life, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity. Europa is strongly believed to hide a deep ocean of salty liquid water beneath its icy shell. Whether the Jovian moon has the raw materials and chemical energy in […]

Continue reading...

Cassini Image of Saturn’s Rings and Its Moon Prometheus

May 16, 2016

0 Comments

Cassini Image of Prometheus and Saturn's Rings

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft views Saturn’s Rings and its neighboring moon Prometheus. Most planetary rings appear to be shaped, at least in part, by moons orbiting their planets, but nowhere is that more evident than in Saturn’s F ring. Filled with kinks, jets, strands and gores, the F ring has been sculpted by its two neighboring […]

Continue reading...

Kepler Space Telescope Reveals 1,284 New Planets

May 11, 2016

1 Comment

NASA's Kepler Verifies 1,284 New Planets

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date. “This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we […]

Continue reading...

Scientists Unveil the First Global Topographic Model of Mercury

May 9, 2016

0 Comments

Global Topographic Model of Mercury

Using data from NASA’s MESSENGER mission, astronomers created the first global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury, revealing in stunning detail the topography across the entire innermost planet and paving the way for scientists to fully characterize its geologic history. NASA’s MESSENGER mission has unveiled the first global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury, revealing […]

Continue reading...

Cassini Spacecraft Views Saturn’s Moon Epimetheus

May 9, 2016

0 Comments

Cassini Views Saturn's Moon Epimetheus

Cassini gets a closer look at Saturn’s little moon Epimetheus. Life is hard for a little moon. Epimetheus, seen here with Saturn in the background, is lumpy and misshapen, thanks in part to its size and formation process. Epimetheus did not form with all of those craters in place — rather, bombardment over the eons […]

Continue reading...

New Horizons Reveals a Distinct Water-Ice Signature on the Surface of Hydra

May 6, 2016

0 Comments

New Horizons Reveals Water-Ice Signature on the Surface of Hydra

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft reveals a distinct water-ice signature on the surface of Pluto’s outermost moon, Hydra. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent home the first compositional data about Pluto’s four small satellites. The new data show the surface of Hydra, Pluto’s outermost small moon, is dominated by nearly pristine water ice – confirming hints […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Discover Three Potentially Habitable Worlds

May 3, 2016

4 Comments

Three Potentially Habitable Worlds Found Around Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star TRAPPIST-1

Astronomers have discovered three planets with sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth, orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth. Astronomers using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory have discovered three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth. These worlds have sizes and […]

Continue reading...

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Reveals Clues about Volcanoes Under Ice on Ancient Mars

May 3, 2016

1 Comment

Clues about Volcanoes Under Ice on Ancient Mars Revealed

New evidence from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that volcanoes erupted beneath an ice sheet on Mars billions of years ago. The research about these volcanoes helps show there was extensive ice on ancient Mars. It also adds information about an environment combining heat and moisture, which could have provided favorable conditions for microbial life. […]

Continue reading...

Evidence Points to Planet Nine Existing, But How Was it Produced?

May 3, 2016

2 Comments

Update on Planet Nine

New research examines Planet Nine and the mystery behind its existence. Earlier this year scientists presented evidence for Planet Nine, a Neptune-mass planet in an elliptical orbit 10 times farther from our Sun than Pluto. Since then theorists have puzzled over how this planet could end up in such a distant orbit. New research by […]

Continue reading...

Newly Released Cassini Image – The Dew Drop of Saturn

May 2, 2016

0 Comments

New Cassini Image Dew Drop of Saturn

This newly released image of Saturn and Enceladus was taken by NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft last May. The water-world Enceladus appears here to sit atop Saturn’s rings like a drop of dew upon a leaf. Even though it appears like a tiny drop before the might of the giant Saturn, Enceladus reminds us that even small […]

Continue reading...

New Elevation Map of Pluto’s ‘Heart’ from New Horizons

May 2, 2016

0 Comments

New Elevation Map of Pluto from New Horizons

NASA releases a new elevation map of Pluto’s heart-shaped surface area. This newest shaded relief view of the region surrounding the left side of Pluto’s heart-shaped feature – informally named Sputnik Planum – shows that the vast expanse of the icy surface is on average 2 miles (3 kilometers) lower than the surrounding terrain. Angular […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Discover Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake

April 26, 2016

1 Comment

Hubble Space Telescope Discovers Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake

Using the Hubble Space Telescope a team of astronomers just discovered a moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake — the third largest known object past the orbit of Neptune, about two thirds the size of Pluto. Peering to the outskirts of our solar system, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, […]

Continue reading...

New Horizons Image Shows Pluto’s ‘Halo’ Craters

April 21, 2016

1 Comment

New Horizons Views Pluto’s ‘Halo’ Craters

This newly released image from the New Horizons Spacecraft looks within Pluto’s informally named Vega Terra region, showing a field of eye-catching craters that looks like a cluster of bright halos scattered across a dark landscape. The region is far west of the hemisphere NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft viewed during close approach last summer. The […]

Continue reading...

Scientists Identify a Free-Floating, Planetary-Mass Object in TW Hydrae

April 20, 2016

1 Comment

Astronomers Find Lone Planetary-Mass Object in Family of Stars

New data from WISE and its predecessor, the Two Micron All Sky Survey, reveals the lowest-mass free-floating object in TW Hydrae family — a likely brown dwarf called WISEA J114724.10−204021.3. In 2011, astronomers announced that our galaxy is likely teeming with free-floating planets. In fact, these lonely worlds, which sit quietly in the darkness of […]

Continue reading...

New Images Reveal More Details on Ceres’ Craters

April 19, 2016

0 Comments

New Ceres Images Reveal Bright Craters

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has revealed marvelous sights on dwarf planet Ceres during its first year in orbit, including the mysterious bright spots in Occator Crater. Craters with bright material on dwarf planet Ceres shine in new images from NASA’s Dawn mission. In its lowest-altitude mapping orbit, at a distance of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from […]

Continue reading...

New Horizons Shows Pluto’s Haze Varies in Brightness

April 18, 2016

0 Comments

New Research Shows Pluto’s Haze Varies in Brightness

New images from NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft reveal that Pluto’s haze varies in brightness. Scientists on NASA’s New Horizons mission team are learning more about the structure and behavior of Pluto’s complex atmosphere by discovering new attributes of its extensive haze layers. The hazes were first discovered by New Horizons in July, as the spacecraft […]

Continue reading...