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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

Days before its crash, LADEE saw zodiacal light above the lunar horizon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/23 12:55 CDT | 4 comments

LADEE ended its mission as planned with a crash into the lunar surface on April 17. Just days prior, it turned its star tracker camera toward the lunar horizon and captured a striking series of images of the lunar sunrise and zodiacal light.

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Forensic Ballistics: How Apollo 12 Helped Solve the Skydiver Meteorite Mystery

Posted by Philip Metzger on 2014/04/21 09:33 CDT | 7 comments

What can a 45-year-old mission to the Moon tell us about a "meteorite" flying past a skydiver on Earth?

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The End of Opportunity and the Burden of Success

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/15 08:19 CDT | 11 comments

The Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are both zeroed out in NASA's 2015 budget. Learn why these missions face the axe and why the White House is forcing NASA to choose between existing missions and starting new ones.

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Intro Astronomy Class 9: Titan, Uranus and Neptune Systems

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/11 02:31 CDT

Examine Saturn's moon Titan and explore the Uranian and Neptunian systems in this video of class 9 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 8: Icy Galilean Satellites, Saturn System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/11 02:28 CDT

Explore the icy moons of the Jupiter System and tour the Saturnian system in this video of class 8 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Yutu Update

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2014/04/10 03:08 CDT | 1 comment

We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But Phil Stooke has been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and now tries to put it all together and address the current state of the mission.

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Your Europa Mission Primer of the Day

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/08 09:35 CDT | 1 comment

Trying to understand NASA's current efforts to explore Europa? Read this excellent piece on the recent, frustrating history to scout out this watery moon of Jupiter.

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Commander Dave Scott's Masursky Lecture from LPSC 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/04 03:21 CDT | 5 comments

A video of Apollo astronaut David Scott's lecture to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. His talk was an absolute treat: funny, educational, engaging, full of joy at his adventure, though at the end, a little angry that we've not sent more humans back. It's well worth 45 minutes of your time.

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NASA's LADEE Spacecraft to Fly Through an Eclipse, Crash into the Lunar Surface on April 21st

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/04 01:13 CDT | 1 comment

LADEE, NASA's latest robotic lunar spacecraft, will reach its planned end-of-mission on April 21st, when it will crash on the far side of the Moon.

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Fireworks in the Earth's Sky Sent from the Moon: Reflections from LPSC 2014

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2014/04/03 07:00 CDT

Deepak Dhingra reports on presentations from this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference focusing on how impacts on the Moon have affected Earth.

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