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Blog Archive

 

A moon with atmosphere

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/08 01:27 CDT | 10 comments

What is the solar system moon with the densest atmosphere? Most space fans know that the answer is Titan. A few of you might know that Triton's is the next densest. But what's the third? Fourth? Do any other moons even have atmospheres? In fact, they do; and one such atmosphere has just been discovered.

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Four Ideas to Bust the Floor on Outer Planet Mission Costs

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/03/26 08:25 CDT | 7 comments

The road to lower costs outer planet missions has been paved by NASA’s first two New Frontiers missions, the $700M New Horizons mission to Pluto and the $1.1B Juno mission to Jupiter. But can the cost of a mission to the outer solar system be cut to $450M, the limit for a Discovery mission?

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Three Major Volcanic Eruptions Observed On Io in the Span of Two Weeks

Posted by Jason Perry on 2014/08/12 09:40 CDT | 1 comments

Jason Perry brings us a report on recent ground-based observations that shed new light on the most powerful of Io’s volcanic eruptions.

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Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/11 05:53 CST | 1 comments

Take a tour of the Solar System in the video of class 1 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Through a Glass, Darkly

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/01/13 12:46 CST | 5 comments

When sent from deep space, even imperfect images can inform and amaze.

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Europa New Frontiers Mission? (Or why I like the Europa Clipper concept even more now)

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/07 05:14 CST | 3 comments

Europa remains a top priority for a future mission to explore whether it could host life. While the Europa Clipper mission, remains the current front runner, a senior NASA manager has suggested that the agency may look at still lower cost options. Van Kane looks at what those options might be.

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NASA’s New Planetary Mission Woes
Budget cuts slow down the rate of new missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/27 04:49 CST | 2 comments

NASA’s planetary science program depends on regular missions to solar system bodies to gather data. A combination of budget cuts and previous commitments to develop missions currently in the pipeline means that development of follow on missions may slow to a crawl. Van Kane looks at the current situation and NASA’s plans and then look at options the agency may consider if budgets remain tight into the next decade.

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Jupiter and Io from Pioneer 10

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2013/08/02 04:25 CDT | 2 comments

This is a parting shot of Jupiter and Io, taken December 5, 1973, by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, the first to see either world as a crescent.

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Scale comparisons of the solar system's major moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/10 06:05 CDT | 15 comments

A few presentation slides with pretty pictures, sized to scale, of the large moons of the solar system.

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Voyager 1 revisited: Io and Europa transiting Jupiter

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2013/01/22 06:04 CST

What is the highest resolution global Jupiter mosaic that includes a satellite transit that can be assembled from Voyager images? Satellite transits are especially beautiful when the resolution is high enough for some details to be visible on the satellites so I decided to check this. And I was remarkably lucky.

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Pretty picture: Jupiter photo from an unusual source

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/26 01:02 CST | 4 comments

A recently launched Earth-observing satellite is using the stars to practice its pointing, and caught a neat animation of Jupiter.

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Book Review: Atlas of the Galilean Satellites, by Paul Schenk

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/18 12:59 CST

Not many subjects remain for which it is possible to assemble everything that we know about it in one book. Even for those subjects for which our knowledge is limited, knowledge seems always to be expanding exponentially. This is not true, however, for the Galilean satellites of Jupiter.

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Scale solar system presentation slide, a provisional version for you to review

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/15 02:18 CDT

I'm preparing a talk for the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show here in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon at 1:45. I have spent the morning putting together a slide that I have long wanted to have for presentations.

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Galileo's still producing discoveries: A magma ocean within Io!

Posted by Jason Perry on 2011/05/13 11:44 CDT

A fresh report was published online yesterday in Science Express on the discovery of a magma ocean beneath the surface of Io. Big news! This is a paper I've been looking forward to seeing for more than year and half.

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Mercury: a moon-scale body

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/17 06:15 CDT

As I wait for the MESSENGER Mercury Orbit Insertion webcast to start, I thought I'd fiddle with some images to point out that Mercury is a bridge between the scales of planets and the scales of moons.

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LPSC 2011: Wanted: Pioneer 10 & 11 digital data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/11 01:39 CST

This is both a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) update and a public service announcement. Ted Stryk has been working for years to locate the original Pioneer 10 and 11 image data from the Jupiter and Saturn encounters.

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Io and Jupiter from Voyager 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/31 03:14 CST

Here's an image I've been meaning to post for months, a new mosaic from Voyager 1 by Ted Stryk of Io crossing Jupiter's terminator as it neared closest approach.

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Door 12 in the 2010 advent calendar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/12 05:39 CST

Time to open the twelfth door in the advent calendar. Where in the solar system is this trapezoidal mountain?

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Field trip to Piton

Posted by Rosaly Lopes on 2010/10/07 05:22 CDT

Rosaly Lopes relates her time at a workshop in Piton.

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Exposing Io's true colors

Posted by Jason Perry on 2010/08/20 05:15 CDT

Thanks to its active volcanic activity and sulfur-rich surface, Io is one of the most colorful worlds yet seen in the Solar System, save the Earth of course

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