Planetary Science News

Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes on Europa

September 27, 2016

0 Comments

Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean […]

Continue reading...

NASA Research Reveals That Mercury is Active

September 26, 2016

0 Comments

Astronomers Reveal Mercury is Active

New research suggests that Mercury is contracting even today, joining Earth as a tectonically active planet. Images obtained by NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft reveal previously undetected small fault scarps— cliff-like landforms that resemble stair steps. These scarps are small enough that scientists believe they must be geologically young, which […]

Continue reading...

Hubble Finds a Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars in System OGLE-2007-BLG-349

September 22, 2016

0 Comments

Hubble Reveals Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers has confirmed the existence of a planet orbiting two stars in the system OGLE-2007-BLG-349, located 8,000 light-years away towards the center of our galaxy. The planet orbits roughly 300 million miles from the stellar duo, about the distance from the asteroid belt to our sun. It […]

Continue reading...

Evidence of Surprising Activity on Europa

September 21, 2016

1 Comment

NASA to Discuss Evidence of Surprising Activity on Europa

NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, September 26, to present new findings from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. Astronomers will present results from a unique Europa observing campaign that resulted in surprising evidence of activity that may be related to the presence of […]

Continue reading...

Astronomers Examine Dicyanoacetylene Ice in Titan’s Stratosphere

September 21, 2016

0 Comments

Scientists Find ‘Impossible’ Cloud on Titan

New research examines the appearance of a cloud of dicyanoacetylene ice in Titan’s stratosphere. The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s […]

Continue reading...

CfA Astronomers Confirm and Characterize Exoplanet K2-33b

September 20, 2016

0 Comments

Astronomers Confirm and Characterize Exoplanet K2-33b

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics take a closer look at migrating exoplanets. Many known exoplanets orbit close to their host star, within one-tenth of an astronomical unit (one AU is the average distance of the Earth from the Sun). Since their orbital periods are therefore very short and their gravitational influences on the […]

Continue reading...

‘Marsquakes’ Provide a Potential Microbial Energy Source on Mars

September 19, 2016

1 Comment

Evidence for a Potential Microbial Energy Source on Earth and Mars

New research from Yale University shows that rocks formed by the grinding together of other rocks during earthquakes are rich in trapped hydrogen — a finding that suggests similar seismic activity on Mars may produce enough hydrogen to support life. Researchers from Yale, the University of Aberdeen, and Brock University studied rock formations around active […]

Continue reading...

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Begins Final Year of Its Voyage

September 16, 2016

0 Comments

Cassini Begins Final Year at Saturn

After more than 12 years of exploring Saturn, NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft has entered the final year of its voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame. Beginning on November 30, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft just past the outer […]

Continue reading...

Chandra Detects X-Rays from Pluto

September 15, 2016

1 Comment

Astronomers Shed New Light on Pluto

Using Chandra, a team of astronomers has detected X-rays from Pluto for the first time. This X-ray emission comes from the interaction between Pluto’s atmosphere and solar wind. New Chandra observations offer new insight into the space environment surrounding Pluto, the largest and best-known object in the solar system’s outermost regions. While NASA’s New Horizons […]

Continue reading...

Charon’s Polar Coloring the Result of Seasonally Cold-Trapped Volatiles

September 14, 2016

0 Comments

Charon’s Polar Coloring Comes from Pluto

New research reveals that Charon’s reddish polar coloring comes from Pluto itself. In June 2015, when the cameras on NASA’s approaching New Horizons spacecraft first spotted the large reddish polar region on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, mission scientists knew two things: they’d never seen anything like it elsewhere in our solar system, and they couldn’t […]

Continue reading...

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Views Layered Rock Formations

September 13, 2016

1 Comment

Mars Rover Views Layered Rock Formations

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. Curiosity took the images with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on September 8. The rover team plans to assemble several large, color mosaics from […]

Continue reading...

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Views a Streamlined Form in Lethe Vallis, Mars

September 13, 2016

1 Comment

New Image of Lethe Vallis on Mars

This newly released image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a portion of Lethe Vallis, an outflow channel that also transported lava. This image was acquired at 15:16 local Mars time on May 6, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Another investigation of this area (Balme […]

Continue reading...

New Cassini Images Show Titan’s Dunes and Other Features

September 7, 2016

0 Comments

New Images Show Titans Dunes and Other Features

New images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft peer through the haze that surrounds Titan, revealing dunes and other interesting features. This video focuses on Shangri-la, a large, dark area on Titan filled with dunes. The long, linear dunes are thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan’s atmosphere. Cassini […]

Continue reading...

Juno Images Provide an Unprecedented View of Jupiter

September 2, 2016

4 Comments

New Images of Jupiter’s North Pole

Juno’s recent flyby of Jupiter has provided astronomers with images unlike anything previously seen. NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any […]

Continue reading...

ESOcast 87 – Astronomers Discuss Proxima b

September 1, 2016

1 Comment

Planet Proxima b

In this six minute ESOcast video astronomers discuss the newly discovered Proxima b and the possibility of life outside our solar system. The Pale Red Dot campaign aimed to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and the team did indeed find a planet. Even more excitingly, the […]

Continue reading...

New Horizons Image Shows Pluto’s Methane Snowcaps

August 31, 2016

0 Comments

New Pluto Image Shows Methane Snowcaps on the Edge of Darkness

This newly released image shows the southernmost part of Pluto that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft could “see” during closest approach in July 2015. The image contains a range of fascinating geological features, and offers clues into what might lurk in the regions shrouded in darkness during the flyby. The area shown above is south of […]

Continue reading...

New Cassini Image Shows a Glowing Spot on Saturn’s B Ring

August 29, 2016

0 Comments

New Cassini Image Surge in the Ring

This new image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows an ethereal, glowing spot on Saturn’s B ring. There is nothing particular about that place in the rings that produces the glowing effect — instead, it is an example of an “opposition surge” making that area on the rings appear extra bright. An opposition surge occurs when […]

Continue reading...

A Billion or More Jupiter-Like Worlds Could Be Orbiting Stars in the Milky Way

August 26, 2016

0 Comments

Scientists Compare Jupiter with Jupiter-like Planets

Using data from NASA’s Juno probe, astronomers hope to gain a better understanding of Jupiter and the the many Jupiter-like planets in our galaxy. Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around. Astronomers say that […]

Continue reading...