Planetary Science News

Ring System Around J1407b is Roughly 200 Times Larger Than Saturn’s Rings

January 27, 2015

0 Comments

Gigantic Ring System Larger Than Saturn’s

A new study from astronomers at the Leiden Observatory reveals details about the gigantic ring system around J1407b. Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, USA, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier […]

Continue reading...

Kepler-444: An Ancient Extrasolar System with Five Sub-Earth-Size Planets

January 27, 2015

0 Comments

Astronomers Discover an Ancient Extrasolar System with Five Sub-Earth-Size Planets

Using data from the Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered a compact system of five transiting planets with sizes between those of Mercury and Venus. They validate this system as a true five-planet system orbiting the target star and provide a detailed characterization of its planetary and orbital parameters based on an analysis of the transit […]

Continue reading...

Dawn Spacecraft Captures Best-Ever View of Ceres

January 27, 2015

0 Comments

Best Ever View of Ceres

The sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres were taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on January 25. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet. “We know so little about […]

Continue reading...

Small Helicopter Could Improve the Exploration of Mars

January 23, 2015

0 Comments

Small Helicopter Could Scout for Future Mars Rovers

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are working on a small helicopter that could ‘scout’ a trail for future Mars rovers. Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition of the Red Planet, but a rover’s vision is limited by the view […]

Continue reading...

Curiosity Rover Marks 11th Anniversary with Hilltop Panorama

January 23, 2015

0 Comments

Curiosity Marks 11th Anniversary with Hilltop Image

In celebration of its 11th anniversary on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover captured this panorama view from the top of “Cape Tribulation.” A panorama from one of the highest elevations that NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached in its 11 years on Mars includes the U.S. flag at the summit. The view is from the […]

Continue reading...

Gullies Suggest Water Flowed on the Surface of Vesta

January 22, 2015

0 Comments

Gullies Suggest Past Water on Vesta

A newly published study shows evidence that transient water flowed on the surface of Vesta, in a debris-flow-like process, and left distinctive geomorphologic features. Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its […]

Continue reading...

LBTI Completes First Study of Dust in the “Habitable Zone”

January 21, 2015

0 Comments

LBTI Views a Dusty Star

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer has completed its first study of dust in the “habitable zone” around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. The findings will help in the design of future space missions that have the goal of taking pictures of planets similar to Earth, called exo-Earths. “Kepler told […]

Continue reading...

New JPL Video: Approaching Titan a Billion Times Closer

January 20, 2015

0 Comments

Cassini Color Mosaic of Titan

A new three minute video uses data collected by Cassini’s imaging cameras and the Huygens Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer to better detail Saturn’s moon Titan. Approaching Titan a Billion Times Closer Remember the Titan (Landing): Ten years ago today, January 14, 2005, the Huygens probe touched down on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. This new, narrated movie […]

Continue reading...

NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Closes in on Ceres, Delivers New Images

January 20, 2015

0 Comments

Dawn Spacecraft Closes in on Ceres

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has captured new images of dwarf planet Ceres. As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for […]

Continue reading...

New Horizons Begins First Stages of Pluto Encounter

January 16, 2015

0 Comments

New Horizons Spacecraft Begins First Stages of Pluto Encounter

After a voyage of more than 3 billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is ready to begin exploring Pluto. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently began its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto. The spacecraft is entering the first of several approach phases that culminate July 14 with the first close-up flyby of the dwarf planet, 4.67 […]

Continue reading...

Astrophysicists Believe There Are More Planets in Our Solar System

January 15, 2015

1 Comment

New Research Suggests That There Are More Planets in Our Solar System

Numerical calculations made by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge reveal that there could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionize solar system models. Astronomers have spent decades debating whether some dark trans-Plutonian planet remains to be discovered within the […]

Continue reading...

Meteorites Were Byproducts of Planetary Formation, Not Building Blocks

January 15, 2015

1 Comment

New Study Finds Twist on Planetary Origins

A newly published study from researchers at MIT and Purdue University reveals that chondrules were byproducts of a violent and messy planetary process, not building blocks. Meteors that have crashed to Earth have long been regarded as relics of the early solar system. These craggy chunks of metal and rock are studded with chondrules — […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Celebrate 10 Year Anniversary of Titan Landing

January 15, 2015

0 Comments

The 10 Years Since Titan Landing

Ten years ago, ESA’s Huygens probe entered the history books by descending to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Humanity’s first successful attempt to land a probe on another world in the outer Solar System. On January 14, 2005 an explorer from Earth parachuted into the haze of an alien moon toward an uncertain […]

Continue reading...

New Exoplanet-Hunting Facility (NGTS) Achieves First Light

January 14, 2015

0 Comments

New Exoplanet-Hunting Telescopes

The Next-Generation Transit Survey has achieved first light and will focus on discovering Neptune-sized and smaller planets, with diameters between two and eight times that of Earth. The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) is a wide-field observing system made up of an array of twelve telescopes, each with an aperture of 20 centimeters [1]. This new […]

Continue reading...

Scientists Pinpoint the Position of Saturn

January 9, 2015

0 Comments

Researchers Pinpoint the Position of Saturn

Using a giant array of radio-telescope antennas and data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, astronomers have made the most accurate determinations yet of the position of the center of mass, or barycenter, of Saturn and its numerous moons. Scientists have paired NASA’s Cassini spacecraft with the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio-telescope system […]

Continue reading...

HARPS-N Spectrograph Reveals the Composition of Terrestrial Planets

January 7, 2015

0 Comments

Astronomers Reveal New Recipe for Other Earths

Using the High-Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), astronomers show that the recipe for Earth also applies to terrestrial exoplanets orbiting distant stars. Cambridge, Massachusetts – How do you make an Earth-like planet? The “test kitchen” of Earth has given us a detailed recipe, but it wasn’t clear whether other planetary systems would follow the […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Discover Eight New Planets in “Goldilocks” Zone

January 7, 2015

0 Comments

Eight New Planets Found in Goldilocks Zone

Using Kepler data, a team of astronomers has discovered eight new planets orbiting their stars at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. Cambridge, Massachusetts – Astronomers announced today that they have found eight new planets in the “Goldilocks” zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can […]

Continue reading...