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The not-planets

Emily Lakdawalla • July 14, 2015

Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.

New Horizons is a Triumph for Space Advocates

Casey Dreier • July 07, 2015

New Horizons—what will be NASA’s greatest success of 2015—was cancelled multiple times in its early life, and many times before that in its previous incarnations. A mission to Pluto was not inevitable, despite the overwhelming scientific and public excitement.

NASA Goes First Class for Europa

Van Kane • June 10, 2015

Over the last several years, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory have rethought the entire approach to exploring Europa. NASA now has a concept that's affordable.

Why We Don't Know When the Europa Mission Will Launch

Casey Dreier • May 27, 2015

NASA has been vague about when the new mission to Europa will launch. There's a reason for that, and it's not just orbital mechanics.

Here Are the Science Instruments NASA Will Use to Explore Europa

Casey Dreier • May 26, 2015

NASA just announced the science instruments that will be used to understand the enigmatic ocean moon of Europa. The mission is planned to launch sometime in the early 2020s.

NASA's Mission to Europa May Get More Interesting Still

Van Kane • April 11, 2015

NASA officials have asked their European counterparts if they would like to propose contributing a small probe to NASA's Europa mission planned for the mid-2020s.

A moon with atmosphere

Emily Lakdawalla • April 08, 2015

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.

Four Ideas to Bust the Floor on Outer Planet Mission Costs

Van Kane • March 26, 2015

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?

An internal ocean on Ganymede: Hooray for consistency with previous results!

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2015

A newly published paper confirms a subsurface ocean at Ganymede. An ocean there was already suspected from its magnetic field and predicted by geophysics; new Hubble data confirms it, and even says it is in the same place we thought it was before. Such consistency is rare enough in planetary science to be worth celebration.

Mapping Europa

Björn Jónsson • February 18, 2015

Several global maps have been made of Europa, but amateur image processor Björn Jónsson felt they could be improved—so he decided to make a new one.

It's Official: We're On the Way to Europa

Casey Dreier • February 02, 2015

NASA's 2016 budget request increases the space agency's budget by $519 million, starts a new mission to Europa, increases funds to Commercial Crew, and threatens some long-running planetary missions.

Flawed Beauties

Bill Dunford • February 02, 2015

More examples of imperfect--but tantalizing--images from deep space.

JUICE at Europa

Van Kane • January 13, 2015

Europe's JUICE spacecraft will provide us with a detailed regional study of this icy moon of Jupiter.

Join me in Washington, D.C. for a post-Thanksgiving Celebration of Planetary Exploration

Casey Dreier • November 26, 2014

See Bill Nye, Europa scientist Kevin Hand, and Mars scientist Michael Meyer speak at a special event on Capitol Hill on December 2nd.

Don't Miss This Great New Video About Europa

Casey Dreier • November 21, 2014

JPL released a slick new video highlighting the significance of Europa, the moon of Jupiter with more liquid water than the Earth.

A Mission to Europa Just Got a Whole Lot More Likely

Casey Dreier • November 20, 2014

Rep. John Culberson, an outspoken supporter of Europa exploration, will assume leadership of an influential congressional committee that funds NASA.

Europa: How Less Can Be More

Van Kane • August 26, 2014

Van Kane explains three factors that make exploring Europa hard—factors that can make a mission concept that seems like less actually be more.

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

Jason Perry • August 12, 2014

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

Watch Bill Nye and Special Guests in The Lure of Europa

Casey Dreier • August 04, 2014

We've posted the full video of our Washington, D.C. event exploring the lure of Europa, the moon of Jupiter with more liquid water than the Earth.

Mars and Europa: Contrasts in Mission Planning

Van Kane • July 19, 2014

Several announcements for proposed missions to Mars and on the planning for a NASA return to Europa that highlight the contrasts in planning missions for these two high priority destinations.

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