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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 Shores of the Kraken Sea: Great Place Names in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/05/28 08:59 CDT | 9 comments

Nothing reflects the romance of deep space exploration more than the evocative names of places on the planets and moons.

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Doing a science on Titan

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2013/05/15 11:55 CDT | 12 comments

A tale from the scientific trenches: laboratory work to simulate Titan's rich atmosphere.

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Dueling Desolations: Mercury vs. the Moon

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/05/13 01:02 CDT | 7 comments

They look so similar they can be hard to tell apart, but each hides its own mysteries.

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Dark No More: Exploring the Far Side of the Moon

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/04/29 02:11 CDT | 3 comments

The first human beings to see the mysterious "dark" side of the moon were not astronauts.

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One Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/04/08 09:12 CDT | 4 comments

Dispatches from five different worlds--all sent by robotic spacecraft on the same day.

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Reports from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/28 02:00 CDT | 5 comments

On Thursday at noon PDT / 1900 UTC I'll report on some of my favorite findings from LPSC, and answer your questions about the latest planetary science.

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LPSC 2013: License to Chill (or, the solar system's icy moons)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/27 11:52 CDT

Reports from the March 19 session at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference covering eight icy moons in the outer solar system: Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Mimas, Tethys, Enceladus, and Miranda.

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LPSC 2013: The Smaller They Are, The Better They Shake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/25 08:04 CDT | 1 comments

Really cool movies from Jim Richardson propose to explain how the same physics of impact cratering can produce such differently-appearing surfaces as those of the Moon, large asteroids like Eros, and teeny ones like Itokawa.

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Messages of Wonder

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/03/18 04:22 CDT

Some lovely, rarely-seen images from the MESSENGER mission.

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Instruments for the JUICE Jovian Mission

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/03/07 12:20 CST | 6 comments

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the list of instruments selected for its JUICE mission to explore the Jovian system for three years starting in the 2030 following a 2022 launch.

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