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
Image processing enthusiast Ian Regan produced a pretty view of Titan's lake-filled north pole, now visible to Cassini's cameras in the summer sun.
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2016/02/04 02:27 CST
The 2017 budget season is almost here. Next week, the White House will release its budget request for NASA. Here are three things I will immediately look for upon its release.
Here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.
China plans a busy future in robotic space exploration. Besides the scientific merit, what interests me most about the upcoming Chang'e 4 mission is their intention to get the public involved.
Tomorrow, Cassini will fly by Titan, picking up a gravity assist that will tilt its orbit slightly up and out of the ring plane. That will end what has been a wonderful year of frequent encounters with Saturnian moons.
It's official: China plans to send a lander mission to the lunar farside. A relay satellite will launch to the Earth-Moon L2 point in June of 2018, and a lander will follow at the end of 2018. The landing site may be within the south pole-Aitken basin.
Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2016/01/07 06:33 CST
The Division of Planetary Science (DPS) Meeting saw many exciting scientific discussions spanning the range of processes on different planetary bodies, as well as their replication in the laboratory and in models.
Two images of Earth taken from different spacecraft at the same time illustrate differences in "true" color imaging among spacecraft.
The Planetary Fund
Help us accelerate progress in our four core enterprises: Robotic Space Exploration, Human Space Exploration, Planetary Defense, and The Search for Life.