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Moons and Rings: Our Favorite Things
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21 Aug 2014 Voyager Map Details Neptune's Strange Moon Triton
NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon. The map, produced by Paul Schenk, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, has also been used to make a movie recreating that historic Voyager encounter, which took place 25 years ago, on August 25, 1989
14 Apr 2014 NASA Cassini Images May Reveal Birth of a Saturn Moon
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known moons.
26 Mar 2014 First Ring System Around Asteroid: Chariklo Found to Have Two Rings
Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System -- after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris.
12 Feb 2014 Largest Solar System Moon Detailed in Geologic Map
More than 400 years after its discovery by astronomer Galileo Galilei, the largest moon in the solar system -- Jupiter's moon Ganymede -- has finally claimed a spot on the map. A group of scientists led by Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College has produced the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter's seventh moon. The map combines the best images obtained during flybys conducted by NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (1979) and Galileo orbiter (1995 to 2003) and is now published by the U. S. Geological Survey as a global map. It technically illustrates the varied geologic character of Ganymede's surface and is the first global, geologic map of this icy, outer-planet moon.
23 Oct 2013 Cassini Gets New Views of Titan's Land of Lakes
With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn's moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan's north pole. The images reveal new clues about how the lakes formed and about Titan's Earth-like "hydrologic" cycle, which involves hydrocarbons rather than water.
17 Oct 2013 Moon Tours: Explore the Moon with a New App from NASA
Moon Tours is a free app from NASA that makes it easy to conduct detailed explorations of the lunar surface using a mobile device. Moon Tours is the mobile version of the NASA's Lunar Mapping and Modeling Portal (LMMP). LMMP (http://www.lmmp.nasa.gov) is the repository for over 600+ geospatial lunar data products and imagery from historical and current lunar missions for use by scientists, mission planners, students, and the public.
17 Oct 2013 Rings, Dark Side of Saturn Glow in New Cassini Image
The gauzy rings of Saturn and the dark side of the planet glow in newly released infrared images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. "Looking at the Saturn system when it is backlit by the sun gives scientists a kind of inside-out view of Saturn that we don't normally see," said Matt Hedman, a participating scientist based at the University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. "The parts of Saturn's rings that are bright when you look at them from backyard telescopes on Earth are dark, and other parts that are typically dark glow brightly in this view."
15 Aug 2013 NASA Rover Gets Movie As A Mars Moon Passes Another
The larger of the two moons of Mars, Phobos, passes directly in front of the other, Deimos, in a new series of sky-watching images from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.
22 Jul 2013 Mystery of the Missing Waves on Titan
One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth. Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it has river channels, islands, mud, rain clouds and maybe even rainbows. The giant moon is undeniably wet. The "water" on Titan is not, however, H2O. Instead, researchers believe the fluid that sculpts Titan is an unknown mixture of methane, ethane and other hard-to-freeze hydrocarbons.
15 Jul 2013 NASA Hubble Finds New Neptune Moon
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet Neptune, the 14th known to be circling the giant planet. The moon, designated S/2004 N 1, is estimated to be no more than 12 miles across, making it the smallest known moon in the Neptunian system. It is so small and dim that it is roughly 100 million times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye. It even escaped detection by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew past Neptune in 1989 and surveyed the planet's system of moons and rings.
10 Jul 2013 Charon Revealed! New Horizons Camera Spots Pluto's Largest Moon
NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft, using its highest-resolution telescopic camera, has spotted Pluto's Texas-sized, ice-covered moon Charon for the first time. This represents a major milestone on the spacecraft's 9½-year journey to conduct the initial reconnaissance of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt and, in a sense, begins the mission's long-range study of the Pluto system.
9 Jul 2013 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Looks at Apollo 12, Surveyor 3 Landing Sites
The LROC (short for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera) imaged the same area of Oceanus Procellarum that Lunar Orbiter 3 photographed. The LROC image, however, reveals some new features: the Apollo 12 lunar module (Intrepid), Surveyor 3, and astronaut tracks are all visible.
5 Jul 2013 The PI's Perspective: Celebrating 35 Years of Charon. A Giant Moon for the Ninth Planet
This week the New Horizons mission team is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto's largest and "first" moon, Charon. This discovery was made in 1978 by U.S. Naval Observatory astronomers James Christy and Robert Harrington, working in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.
2 Jul 2013 Kerberos and Styx: Welcome to the Pluto System! Pluto's Smallest Moons Receive Official Names
The names of Pluto's two smallest known moons, previously referred to as "P4" and "P5," have been formally approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). P4 has been named Kerberos, after the three-headed dog of Greek mythology. P5 has been named Styx, after the mythological river that separates the world of the living from the realm of the dead. They join Pluto's previously known moons Charon, Nix and Hydra. According to IAU rules, Pluto's moons are named for characters associated with the underworld of Greek and Roman mythology.
17 Jun 2013 Supermoon Sunday
The biggest, brightest Moon of the year is almost here. On 23 June 2013, a Supermoon will be occurring. What that means is that the Moon will be closer to the Earth than at any other time during the year -- in fact, the upcoming Supermoon will be the closest encounter between the Earth and the Moon until August 2014.
15 May 2013 Cassini Shapes First Global Topographic Map of Titan
Scientists have created the first global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan, giving researchers a valuable tool for learning more about one of the most Earth-like and interesting worlds in the solar system.
25 Apr 2013 Cassini Observes Meteors Colliding with Saturn's Rings
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided the first direct evidence of small meteoroids breaking into streams of rubble and crashing into Saturn's rings. These observations make Saturn's rings the only location besides Earth, the moon and Jupiter where scientists and amateur astronomers have been able to observe impacts as they occur. Studying the impact rate of meteoroids from outside the Saturnian system helps scientists understand how different planet systems in our solar system formed.
15 Apr 2013 Titan's Methane: Going, Going, Soon to Be Gone?
By tracking a part of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan over several years, NASA's Cassini mission has found a remarkable longevity to the hydrocarbon lakes on the moon's surface. A team led by Christophe Sotin of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., fed these results into a model that suggests the supply of the hydrocarbon methane at Titan could be coming to an end soon (on geological timescales).
4 Apr 2013 High Resolution Lunar Orbiter V Mosaic of Crater Copernicus
The Lunar Orbiter Recovery Project based at Moffett Field CA has produced a phenomenal mosaic of the Copernicus crater floor. The mosaic was created by combining 24 high resolution images taken by Lunar Orbiter V on 16 August 1967. The full resolution image is 24 GIGABYTES and is one of the largest images of planetary data ever put together into one mosaic. If it were blown up to full size at 300 DPI it would be 37 feet wide by 18 feet tall!
15 Mar 2013 Leaping Lunar Dust
Electrically charged lunar dust near shadowed craters can get lofted above the surface and jump over the shadowed region, bouncing back and forth between sunlit areas on opposite sides, according to new calculations by NASA scientists.
7 Mar 2013 Cassini Makes Last Close Flyby of Saturnian Moon Rhea
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be swooping close to Saturn's moon Rhea on Saturday, March 9, the last close flyby of Rhea in Cassini's mission. The primary purpose will be to probe the internal structure of the moon by measuring the gravitational pull of Rhea against the spacecraft's steady radio link to NASA's Deep Space Network here on Earth. The results will help scientists understand whether the moon is homogeneous all the way through or whether it has differentiated into the layers of core, mantle and crust.
28 Jan 2013 Senkyo and Vortex on Titan
The Cassini spacecraft simultaneously peered through the haze in Titan's equatorial region down to its surface and captured the vortex of clouds hovering over its south pole just to the right of the terminator on the moon's dark side.
14 Jan 2013 When Huygens Met Titan
Eight years ago today, the European Space Agency's Huygens bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. It had been "dropped off" 21 days before by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The anniversary marks a touchdown on the most remote alien surface ever visited by a landing probe. A new animation created by ESA presents the last part of the two-and-a-half-hour descent through Titan's thick atmosphere on to the moon's surface on Jan. 14, 2005. The animation was created using real data recorded by Huygens' instruments.
10 Jan 2013 Parting Moon Shots from NASA's GRAIL Mission
Three days prior to its planned impact on a lunar mountain, mission controllers activated the camera aboard one of NASA's GRAIL twins to take some final photos from lunar orbit.
29 Dec 2012 LRO Lets You Stand on the Rim of Aristarchus Crater
Have you ever looked up at the bright, cavernous Aristarchus Crater on the Moon through a telescope or binoculars and wondered what it would be like to stand on the rim and peer inside? Spectacular new views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is almost as good as being there, and a new video lets you "rappel" down and take a closer look at the west side of the crater walls.
18 Dec 2012 From Cassini for the Holidays: A Splendor Seldom Seen
Just in time for the holidays, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn for more than eight years now, has delivered another glorious, backlit view of the planet Saturn and its rings.  On Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, Cassini was deliberately positioned within Saturn's shadow, a perfect location from which to look in the direction of the sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet.
13 Dec 2012 Mountains of Titan
This map of Saturn's moon Titan identifies the locations of mountains that have been named by the International Astronomical Union. By convention, mountains on Titan are named for mountains from Middle-earth, the fictional setting in fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien.   The map uses data collected by both the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) and Radar instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
12 Dec 2012 Cassini Spots Mini Nile River on Saturn Moon
Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth's Nile River: a river valley on Saturn's moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its "headwaters" to a large sea. It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth.  Scientists deduce that the river, which is in Titan's north polar region, is filled with liquid hydrocarbons because it appears dark along its entire length in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.
11 Dec 2012 Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored
Forty years after the last Apollo spacecraft launched, the science from those missions continues to shape our view of the moon. In one of the latest developments, readings from the Apollo 14 and 15 dust detectors have been restored by scientists with the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.The Lunar Dust Detectors that were placed on the lunar surface during Apollo 14 and 15 measured dust accumulation, temperature and damage caused by high-energy cosmic particles and the sun's ultraviolet radiation.  
26 Nov 2012 Cassini Finds a Video Gamers' Paradise at Saturn
Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted a second feature shaped like the 1980s video game icon in the Saturn system, this time on the moon Tethys. (The first was found on Mimas in 2010). The pattern appears in thermal data obtained by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer, with warmer areas making up the Pac-Man shape.
15 Nov 2012 Old Telescope May Get New Moon Impact Mission
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel space telescope, due to end its mission observing the infrared universe in March, may be sent on a crash course with the Moon next summer to search for water embedded beneath the lunar surface.
10 Nov 2012 New 2013 Phases of the Moon Animation Released
The animation shows at hourly intervals, the geocentric phase, libration, position angle of the Moon's axis, and apparent diameter of the Moon throughout the year 2013. Topographic measurements by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter make it possible to simulate shadows on the Moon's surface with unprecedented accuracy and detail.
16 Oct 2012 At Pluto, Moons and Debris May Be Hazardous to New Horizons
"We've found more and more moons orbiting near Pluto -- the count is now up to five," says Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission and an associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). "And we've come to appreciate that those moons, as well as those not yet discovered, act as debris generators, populating the Pluto system with shards from collisions between those moons and small Kuiper Belt objects."
11 Oct 2012 Bounce, Skid, Wobble: How Huygens Landed on Titan
The European Space Agency's Huygens probe, ferried to Saturn's moon Titan by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest in the 10 seconds after touching down on Titan in January 2005, a new analysis reveals. The moon's surface is more complex than previously thought.
31 Aug 2012 International Observe the Moon Night is September 22!
International Observe the Moon Night has created the opportunity for people to take notice of the Moon's beauty and share that experience with one another. Through this event, we hope to instill in the public a sense of wonderment and curiosity.
15 Aug 2012 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Spectrometer Detects Helium in Moon's Atmosphere
Scientists using the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) spectrometer aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have made the first spectroscopic observations of the noble gas helium in the tenuous atmosphere surrounding the Moon.

Although designed to map the lunar surface, the LAMP team expanded its science investigation to examine the far ultraviolet emissions visible in the tenuous atmosphere above the lunar surface, detecting helium over a campaign spanning more than 50 orbits.
11 Jul 2012 Hubble Discovers New Pluto Moon
Pluto's new-found moon, visible as a speck of light in Hubble images, is estimated to be irregular in shape and between 10 and 25 kilometres across. It is in a 95 000 kilometre-diameter circular orbit around Pluto.
8 Jun 2012 Students share MoonKam findings in DC
Middle-school students and their teachers gathered in Washington on June 1, 2012 to demonstrate science lessons and highlight images they took from lunar orbit using NASA's lunar orbiting GRAIL spacecraft and its MoonKAM system.
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