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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

New Concepts to Explore the Jovian System

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/10/28 08:04 CDT | 2 comments

Last year, NASA’s managers invited the European Space Agency to propose a small spacecraft to explore the Jovian system. Van Kane describes the recently-posted results of ESA's concept studies for two possible missions.

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Preparing for the Journey to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2015/10/21 10:03 CDT | 1 comment

Deepak Dhingra reports on a planetary analog field trip exploring a very young volcanic terrain in Idaho at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

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Filling in the Enceladus map: Cassini's 20th flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/16 06:19 CDT | 7 comments

A couple of days ago, Cassini flew past Enceladus for its 20th targeted encounter. Cassini has seen and photographed quite a lot of Enceladus before, but there's still new terrain for it to cover.

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Mars Week Continues: We've Released Our 'Humans Orbiting Mars' Workshop Report

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/29 04:08 CDT | 2 comments

Learn all about a sustainable, affordable path to get humans to the Red Planet—a path that goes through Mars orbit and Phobos.

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Mega Hemorrhaging Total Lunar Eclipse Sept 27-28, 2015

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/09/24 08:25 CDT | 1 comment

There will be a spectacular total lunar eclipse on the night of Sept. 27-28, 2015, a newly dubbed Mega Hemorrhaging Eclipse. Here is info on what lunar eclipses are and how to observe the eclipse.

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Checking in on Uranus and Neptune, September 2015 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/22 01:28 CDT | 5 comments

There are no spacecraft at Uranus or Neptune, and there haven't been for 30 and 25 years, respectively. So we depend on Earth-based astronomers to monitor them, including Damian Peach.

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A Free, Online Course Exploring the Science of Phobos and Deimos

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/19 04:23 CDT | 3 comments

Impress your friends and wow your colleagues by learning all about Mars's moons.

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Finding the Surveyor retro-rockets on the Moon

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2015/09/15 01:02 CDT | 5 comments

Planetary scientist Phil Stooke may have found the retro-rockets from NASA's Lunar Surveyor missions, sent to the Moon in preparation for Apollo.

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IceBreaker: The Search for Life on Mars

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/08 09:19 CDT | 3 comments

The IceBreaker mission, proposed to NASA's Discovery program for low-cost missions, would seek out life on the northern plains of Mars.

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Chang'e 5 test vehicle maps future sample return site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/03 12:13 CDT | 4 comments

This summer the Chinese space agency has been making progress toward its planned 2017 launch of the Chang'e 5 robotic sample return mission, performing low-altitude imaging of the future landing site.

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