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
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/18 04:58 CST
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2009/09/21 12:00 CDT
Posted by Jani Radebaugh on 2009/07/27 07:08 CDT
The Cassini spacecraft made its 59th flyby of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, on Friday, July 24, and in the last few hours we have received images from the RADAR instrument in SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) mode.
Posted by Susan Lendroth on 2009/07/16 01:01 CDT
Grab your bell bottoms and Tang, and travel back to 1969 when Apollo 11's journey to the Moon captivated the world, and Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's boot prints in the lunar dust transformed us into a multi-world species.
Posted by John Smith on 2009/06/07 12:01 CDT
Each Titan flyby is not a fork in the road, but rather a Los Angeles style cloverleaf in terms of the dizzying number of possible destinations. So how did our current and future plans for the path of the Cassini spacecraft come to be? That's the question Dave Seal put to me since that's my job -- I am a tour designer.
Posted by Susan Lendroth on 2009/05/22 01:08 CDT
This summer, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. will commemorate that extraordinary moment in history with a very special Apollo 11 celebration, featuring the mission's original crew members along with former Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft.