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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

America's Pastime: Planetary Science

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/15 12:16 CDT

Apologies to baseball fans and others for the theme of this week's Planetary Radio preview, which has star player Emily Lakdawalla on deck.

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DPS 2013: Tidbits from Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 05:19 CDT | 8 comments

I attended a few talks at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting today that concerned Titan's origin and interesting surface, and then one in the afternoon about the atmosphere.

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Juno's flying by Earth today, and images of the Moon are already on the ground!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 11:25 CDT | 1 comment

Juno flies past Earth for a gravity assist at 19:22 UTC today, and the first images from the encounter are already on the ground and processed by amateurs!

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Super cool Phobos and Deimos animations from Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/03 02:17 CDT

I've been delving in to the Mars Express image archive this week, checking out its images of Phobos, and found a couple of really cool time-series of images to assemble into animations.

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Relative and absolute ages in the histories of Earth and the Moon: The Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/30 03:04 CDT | 1 comment

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research. Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.

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Dating the Moon's basins

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/26 03:33 CDT | 5 comments

A paper in press in the Journal of Geophysical Research uses new data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to update our story for the history of the Moon's massive impacts.

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Swan Song

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/09/25 03:51 CDT | 16 comments

The final moments of a lunar orbiter, as told in a song composed by the moon itself.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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More fancy Phobos and Deimos photography by Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/24 10:19 CDT

Curiosity looked up after dark and captured more cool photos of Mars' moons. They include Phobos and Deimos passing in the night, and Phobos entering Mars' shadow.

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Go LADEE!

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/10 10:41 CDT

Listen to or watch the recording of our live celebration for LADEE as the spacecraft blasted off for the moon.

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