Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

At last, Ceres is a geological world

I've been resisting all urges to speculate on what kinds of geological features are present on Ceres, until now. Finally, Dawn has gotten close enough that the pictures it has returned show geology: bright spots, flat-floored craters, and enigmatic grooves.

Mimas and Pandora dance

I've been out of town for a couple of days and am overwhelmed with work and an overflowing email box. So what do I do about that? I ignore what I'm supposed to be doing and play with Cassini raw image data, of course. Here is a

Pretty picture: A study in ringlight

Clearly, this is Saturn, and its rings, and if you look closer you can see a tiny circle, on top of the rings, which is Mimas, and two stars in the background. It should look weird to you that while the rings are bright, Mimas is a black dot. What is happening here? Nearly everything in this picture is lit by light that has not arrived directly from the Sun.

Tethys and Dione don't seem to be active after all

About four years ago I wrote a blog entry about an ESA press release about paper published in Nature that suggested that Saturn's moons Tethys and Dione might have volcanic activity, like Enceladus. A new paper published in Icarus casts doubt on that conclusion.

Pretty picture: five moons for Cassini

Explaining how to combine the red, green and blue images from a recent Cassini image session containing five of Saturn's moons: Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Mimas and Rhea.

LPSC 2011: Wanted: Pioneer 10 & 11 digital data

This is both a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) update and a public service announcement. Ted Stryk has been working for years to locate the original Pioneer 10 and 11 image data from the Jupiter and Saturn encounters.

Mimas wanders in to view

Cassini's busy downlinking photos from yesterday's close pass by Enceladus, including some neat shots of Dione and this one where Mimas skipped briefly in to the field of view.

New maps of Enceladus and other moons

Every time Cassini gets reasonably close to one of the moons of Saturn, whether the close approach is a targeted one or just an opportunistic encounter, its planners usually take advantage of the proximity to take a bunch of photos.

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Space is vast. There's a lot of exploring to do.

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