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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

Relative and absolute ages in the histories of Earth and the Moon: The Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/30 03:04 CDT | 1 comment

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research. Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.

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Dating the Moon's basins

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/26 03:33 CDT | 5 comments

A paper in press in the Journal of Geophysical Research uses new data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to update our story for the history of the Moon's massive impacts.

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Swan Song

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/09/25 03:51 CDT | 16 comments

The final moments of a lunar orbiter, as told in a song composed by the moon itself.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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More fancy Phobos and Deimos photography by Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/24 10:19 CDT

Curiosity looked up after dark and captured more cool photos of Mars' moons. They include Phobos and Deimos passing in the night, and Phobos entering Mars' shadow.

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Go LADEE!

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/10 10:41 CDT

Listen to or watch the recording of our live celebration for LADEE as the spacecraft blasted off for the moon.

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Watch LADEE Launch to the Moon with The Planetary Society

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/06 08:45 CDT

Starting at 7:30pm PDT/10:30pm EDT, we will webcast a special event around the launch of NASA's next lunar spacecraft. Watch our special coverage with lunar scientists and live video from the launch site, as well as NASA TV footage of the launch itself.

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NASA's Europa Mission Concept Rejects ASRGs -- May Use Solar Panels at Jupiter Instead

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/05 06:41 CDT | 6 comments

The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) is no longer an option for powering a potential Europa mission. The ASRG uses Plutonium-238 to generate electricity, but is far more efficient than past RTGs.

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China Goes to the Moon and Beyond?

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/08/27 01:06 CDT

Planetary Radio guest Leonard David has been writing about space exploration for more than five decades. He has collected analysis from around the world about China's big plans for space exploration.

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The Walls of the Pit

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/08/26 04:37 CDT | 4 comments

A deep lunar crater exposes some of the Moon's secrets.

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