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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

Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates -- and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, too, for good measure

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/05 08:40 CST

Chang'e 3 is just about to land on the Moon, and the LADEE orbiter has begun a new science mission there, while Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is still producing amazing images.

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Somewhere Over the Bay of Rainbows

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/12/02 12:35 CST | 4 comments

Pay a visit to the Chang'e 3 lunar landing site.

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Planetary Radio: Rise of the Europa Underground?

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/11/26 09:39 CST | 2 comments

This week's PlanRad talks to one of the creators of a new effort to build support for the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that would tell us far more about what's going on under that icy moon's surface.

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ARTEMIS Mission Update

Posted by Jasper S. Halekas on 2013/11/14 12:27 CST

ARTEMIS is a mission that retasked two probes from the 5-spacecraft Heliophysics constellation THEMIS to study the interaction of the Moon with the space plasma environment.

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The Strangest Place on the Moon?

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/10/21 02:00 CDT | 4 comments

A closer look at the odd lunar feature called "Ina."

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DPS 2013: The fascination of tiny worlds

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/17 02:27 CDT | 7 comments

In which I summarize Joe Veverka's Kuiper Prize talk at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: "Small is NOT Dull: Unravelling the Complexity of Surface Processes on Asteroids, Comets and Small Satellites."

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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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