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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

Juno has arrived!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/05 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

For a second time, NASA has placed a spacecraft into orbit at Jupiter. The spacecraft operated exactly according to plan, and Juno successfully entered orbit today, July 5, 2016, UTC

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A peek at the JunoCam approach movie

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/04 09:36 CDT | 2 comments

We're now just about 12 hours away from Juno's Jupiter orbit insertion. As anticipation ramps up, NASA has released this sneak peek at JunoCam's approach movie, made of views of Jupiter and its largest moons shot during the final approach, up until about five days ago.

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Plans for China's farside Chang'e 4 lander science mission taking shape

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/22 12:09 CDT | 2 comments

The future Chang'e 4 lunar farside landing mission is rapidly taking shape. Now the mission's team is coming to a consensus on the landing location, as well as on the mission's instrument package.

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Lunar Farside Landing Plans

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2016/05/27 06:48 CDT | 1 comment

Phil Stooke describes a research trip to the Regional Planetary Image Facility at the USGS in Flagstaff, where he discovered Jack Schmitt's proposed plans for a farside landing site for Apollo 17.

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New work with 35-year-old data: Voyagers at Ganymede and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/25 04:44 CDT | 8 comments

The Voyager data set is a gift to Earth that keeps on giving. This week, I've seen three great new images processed from this old data set.

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Lockheed Proposes to have Humans Orbiting Mars by 2028

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/05/19 05:30 CDT | 7 comments

Lockheed Martin proposed a system to send humans to orbit Mars in the year 2028—a concept that shares many core values with The Planetary Society's report, Humans Orbiting Mars, we released last year.

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Space Exploration: Leaving the Earth to Understand It

Posted by Jake Rosenthal on 2016/05/13 08:00 CDT | 1 comment

Looking back at Earth from beyond helps to give perspective on our place in the cosmos.

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New lunar mosaics emerge as Surveyor digitization project continues

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/05/06 06:04 CDT

A team of scientists at the University of Arizona continue their efforts to extract data from more than 90,000 images captured during NASA's Surveyor program. In the meantime, new first-look images and an animation have been released.

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The what-o-sphere? An explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/05/05 08:04 CDT | 3 comments

Why do we need to slice up atmospheres into classifications like the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere?

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The phases of the far side of the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/04/28 10:50 CDT | 4 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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