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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.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014