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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

A Look Back at an Amazing Year

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/12/31 01:16 CST

As excited as we are to jump into 2015, I want to take time to reflect on the year coming to a close and applaud all that we’ve accomplished working together.

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Get an Up-Close Look at the Lunar Surface with These 3D Apollo Images

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/12/26 03:04 CST | 1 comment

3D images generated by the Apollo Lunar Surface Closeup Camera give you an idea of how it would look to crouch on the lunar surface with your spacesuit faceplate to the soil.

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A new Chang'e 3 and Yutu image archive

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/19 02:25 CST

A treasure trove of newly released images from the Chang'e 3 program includes a photo sequence of a waxing Earth and lots of high-resolution views of rover and lander on the Moon.

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Join me in Washington, D.C. for a post-Thanksgiving Celebration of Planetary Exploration

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/26 11:54 CST

See Bill Nye, Europa scientist Kevin Hand, and Mars scientist Michael Meyer speak at a special event on Capitol Hill on December 2nd.

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Don't Miss This Great New Video About Europa

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/21 02:38 CST

JPL released a slick new video highlighting the significance of Europa, the moon of Jupiter with more liquid water than the Earth.

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Lunar Polar Volatile Puzzle

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2014/11/21 09:17 CST

Deepak Dhingra gives an exciting update from the recent Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group (LEAG) meeting at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHU-APL) in Baltimore.

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A Mission to Europa Just Got a Whole Lot More Likely

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/20 08:14 CST

Rep. John Culberson, an outspoken supporter of Europa exploration, will assume leadership of an influential congressional committee that funds NASA.

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A (Difficult) Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/10/30 10:05 CDT | 13 comments

After a bad day on the launch pad, some perspective.

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Phobos over Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/14 08:05 CDT | 10 comments

Today the Mars Orbiter Mission released a nice four-image animation of teeny dark Phobos crossing Mars' huge orange disk. Mars Orbiter Mission joins a long line of Mars missions that have produced images of Mars and Phobos together.

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From Mercury orbit, MESSENGER watches a lunar eclipse

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/10 10:07 CDT | 3 comments

Watch as our enormous moon -- a quarter the diameter of the planet -- just winks out as it passes into Earth's long shadow, in an animation captured from more than 100 million kilometers away.

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