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Major Moons

We have completed reconnaissance missions to all eight of the planets, and will soon perform surveys of two dwarf planets, Ceres and Pluto. Among the most compelling targets for future flagship missions are the solar system's moons. Can we use Phobos as a base from which to tele-operate Mars missions? Is there prebiotic chemistry or even life within the buried oceans of Europa, Ganymede, or Enceladus, or in the methane-ethane rivers and lakes on Titan? What could we learn about the Kuiper belt by studying Neptune's captured moon Triton? What could human explorers do on our own Moon using technology developed over the last 40 years?

These questions drive interest in future missions among scientists, but it's an uphill battle to sell decisionmakers on the value of expensive missions to objects that are "only" moons. For us to capitalize on the successes of our reconnaissance missions, it is essential to educate the public about the reasons that other worlds' moons are so exciting, and that they are worlds every bit as worthy of study as the planets.

Recent Blog Entries about our Moon, Phobos, Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan, and Triton

The phases of the far side of the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/28 10:50 CDT | 3 comments

Serbian artist Ivica Stošić used Clementine and Kaguya data to give a glimpse of the phases of the lunar farside.

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Moonset over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/21 10:23 CDT | 1 comment

Enjoy this serene image of a moonset on another world, captured by Curiosity's Mastcam in April 2014 and processed here by Justin Cowart.

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Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/04/20 10:30 CDT | 4 comments

There are two types of atmospheric waves that are critically important on Earth and other planets: gravity waves and planetary waves.

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LPSC 2016: The Moon Keeps on Giving

Posted by Ryan Clegg-Watkins on 2016/04/14 08:04 CDT | 1 comment

There was no shortage of interesting lunar science talks at last month’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Dr. Ryan Clegg-Watkins highlights some of the interesting results for us.

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Fog Detection from the Surface of Titan: New Findings From Old Data

Posted by Brittney Cooper and Christina Smith and John Moores on 2016/04/07 08:02 CDT | 4 comments

Huygens may have landed on Titan over a decade ago, but a group of researchers from York University were able to make a new and unexpected discovery with this older dataset.

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LPSC 2016: Icy Satellite Science

Posted by Jessica Noviello on 2016/04/05 08:01 CDT

This year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference devoted two oral presentation sessions to questions related to icy satellites in our solar system. Jessica Noviello reports back from the conference.

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Clouds and haze and dust, oh my!

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2016/03/24 11:16 CDT | 3 comments

What types of aerosols do we find in the atmospheres around the Solar System, and why does what we call them—clouds vs. haze vs. dust—matter? Sarah Hörst explains.

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Pretty pictures: Cassini views of Titan's poles (with bonus Enceladus)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/25 02:13 CST | 4 comments

Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan produced a pretty view of Titan's lake-filled north pole, now visible to Cassini's cameras in the summer sun.

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Three Things to Look for in NASA’s Coming Budget Request

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/02/04 02:27 CST

The 2017 budget season is almost here. Next week, the White House will release its budget request for NASA. Here are three things I will immediately look for upon its release.

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Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/28 07:08 CST | 26 comments

Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.

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