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Solar system News

Essential Science: Did Jupiter wander away from the Sun?

Astronomers have long wondered why there are no planets closer to the Sun than Mercury. To have planets closer is common with many stars. The answer might be due to Jupiter having once been located closer to our star, suggests a new theory.

NASA Dawn mission reveals dwarf planet Ceres with crystal clarity

Pasadena - The latest images of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, show sections of this mysterious dwarf planet in breathtaking detail.

New Horizons: Solar wind stripping away Pluto's atmosphere

Baltimore - The latest data from NASA’s Pluto probe, New Horizons, suggests the dwarf planet’s atmosphere is being stripped away by the solar wind and lost to space.

Data from Pluto mission expected to keep arriving for 16 months

Laurel - The universe itself may be billions of years old, but that doesn't mean all of its components were created at the same time.

Martian meteorites provide intriguing hints of life on Mars

Aberdeen - A further clue in the search for life on Mars has emerged after a team of scientists discovered traces of methane in Martian meteorites.

A 'new' crater on Mars as never seen before

Tucson - NASA has released a spectacular hi-res image of a “new” crater in the Sirenum Fossae region of Mars taken by the HiRise instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Pluto: Observing chaos at solar system's outer limits

Munich - Gathering all available telescope data on the minor planet Pluto and its satellites from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), two astronomers have carried out the most in depth analysis yet of one of the solar systems great mysteries.

NASA’s Cassini's last fly-by of Saturn’s weird moon Hyperion

Pasadena - NASA’s Cassini spacecraft makes what will be its last close approach to Saturn’s oddly shaped moon, Hyperion, today, Sunday, May 31.

Sounding out Mars: NASA starts trials for next lander mission

Pasadena - Trials have now started on NASA’s next piece of Mars wizardry, a stationary lander scheduled to head off to the Red Planet, March 2016.

NASA's Messenger spacecraft takes final plunge into Mercury

Cape Canaveral - NASA’s long-trekking Messsenger spacecraft plunged to its destruction April 30 after running out of fuel on its 4,105th orbit of the planet Mercury.

Life on Mars? Curiosity Rover finds biologically useful nitrogen

Pasadena - NASA scientists using instrumentation on board NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover have discovered nitrogen on the Martian surface for the first time.

Radar 'unclothes' planet Venus

Green Bank - As a planet, Venus, shrouded in thick clouds of carbon dioxide, doesn’t lend itself to visual observation. To lift the veil on Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, spacecraft such as NASA’s Magellan probe use radar to penetrate Venus' clouds.

What you need to know about this breakthrough treatment of arthritis

British scientists have hailed the results of a new, experimental stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis as "astonishing."

When Mars had an ocean

Garching Bei M - Mars once hosted an ocean containing more water than the Arctic ocean. Not only that but this primitive Martian Sea covered a greater proportion of Mars’ surface than the Atlantic Ocean does on Earth.

When an iron rain fell on Earth

Not much is known about Earth’s “inner space” —its core — although scientists agree on one thing, much of the core consists of iron. But just how much iron is there remains the subject of debate.

Two unknown Earth-sized planets may be part of Solar System

Scientists tracking the orbits of objects on the extreme edge of our solar system believe that there is a good chance that two planets, at least as large as Earth may exist out there.

Dwarf planet is possible new source of life in our solar system

A potential new source of alien life in our own solar system will be explored by a NASA probe in March 2015. Scientists think that the so-called "dwarf planet," Ceres, could have the right conditions for life to exist and may even be habitable for humans.

NASA's Voyager 1 is riding a huge cosmic tsunami

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, the first and only object made by humanity to reach interstellar space is still riding a cosmic tsunami it hit in February, 2014.

NASA announces live coverage of European comet landing

Pasadena - NASA television will provide live coverage of the European Space Agency’s comet lander mission scheduled to touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov.12.

Saturn’s weird wobbly moon, Mimas

Ithaca - Saturn’s moon Mimas is already an oddity, being the most cratered object in the Solar System and likened to the Death Star of Star Wars fame. But new research this week points to Mimas being even weirder than previously thought.

Tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa — another similarity to Earth

Moscow - Planetary geologists report evidence that Jupiter’s moon Europa shows signs of plate tectonics, shaping and moulding the moon’s surface similar to geological activity on Earth.

ESA's Rosetta probe enters orbit at Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet

Paris - The European Space Agency’s (ESA) comet-chaser mission, already 10 years in transit, has rendezvoused with its target the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet. The ESA Rosetta probe enters orbit around the comet today, Wednesday.

Saturn jumps in for a photobomb of the moon

Sydney - In a rare moment of celestial fun, the sixth planet from the sun decided to drop in for a photobomb of Earth's moon on Monday night.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover to unlock more Martian secrets

Washington - NASA’s successor to the Mars Curiosity rover will head to the red planet in 2020 carrying a payload of scientific instruments that will explore Mars as never before.

Divining sources of water on the Moon

Honolulu - Recent research that reviewed hundreds of chemical analyses of Moon rocks suggests regional variations in the amount of water in the Moon’s interior.

New radar images reveal what lies beneath Moon's surface

Charlottesville - A joint effort using the resources of two of the world’s largest radio telescopes has revealed previously unseen features deep below the surface of the Moon.

Fireball meteor explodes above Ontario and New York State

Peterborough - From Ontario to New York State, last Sunday, many people reported seeing a possible meteor streaking across the sky before exploding in a blinding fireball near Toronto.

Ice, liquid found on Jupiter's moon Ganymede, may harbor life

Think Mars is the ultimate life-harboring planet in our solar system? Think again. Recent findings from NASA indicate there may be life on not one, but two of Jupiter’s moons.

Galactic dark matter may account for Earth being hit by comets

Cambridge - Earth coming under bombardment by comets could be a regular astronomical event, suggest two Harvard University researchers in a recently published research paper.

Killer nuclear-level asteroids from space — but help is at hand

Seattle - How often do asteroids hit Earth? You may suppose such events occur more often in movies than real life, but you’d be wrong. This week, three astronauts revealed that Earth’s been pummelled 26 times by asteroids since the turn of the millennium.
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The ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these images of the Sun spitting out...
The ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these images of the Sun spitting out a coronal mass ejection (CME) on March 15, 2013, from 3:24 to 4:00 a.m. EDT. This type of image is known as a coronagraph, since a disk is placed over the Sun to better see the dimmer atmosphere around it, called the corona.
ESA&NASA/SOHO
Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter s moon Europa. This conceptual illustra...
Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process, where one plate is forced under another, shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa's 20-30 kilometer-thick ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed.
NASA
A projection of the radar data of Venus collected in 2012. Striking surface features -- like mountai...
A projection of the radar data of Venus collected in 2012. Striking surface features -- like mountains and ridges -- are easily seen. The black diagonal band at the center represents areas too close to the Doppler “equator” to obtain well-resolved image data.
B. Campbell, Smithsonian, et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF, Arecibo
The Mare Mare Serenitatis or Sea of Serenity on the Moon as it really is below layers of dust accumu...
The Mare Mare Serenitatis or Sea of Serenity on the Moon as it really is below layers of dust accumulated over billions of years.
Bruce Campbell (Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum); Arecibo/NAIC; NRAO/AUI/NSF
Untitled
NASA
Valles Marineris on Mars
Valles Marineris on Mars
ESA DLR Mars Express
When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrives at asteroid Bennu  it will study the asteroid from a distance...
When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrives at asteroid Bennu, it will study the asteroid from a distance before swooping down and grabbing a sample. On board of the craft will be the names of everybody participating in the "Messages to Bennu!" campaign.
NASA/University of Arizona
Artist s impression of NASA s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample spacecraft preparing to take a sample from ...
Artist's impression of NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu for later return to and analysis on Earth.
NASA/Goddard
Scientists have discovered methane gas in samples taken from Martian meteorites.
Scientists have discovered methane gas in samples taken from Martian meteorites.
Yale University - Michael Helfenbein.
Untitled
NASA
An image obtained by Cassini showing the geyser basin at Enceladus south pole with water vapor jets ...
An image obtained by Cassini showing the geyser basin at Enceladus south pole with water vapor jets clearly visible.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Panoramic View From  Rocknest  Position of Curiosity Mars Rover:
A mosaic of images taken by the Mas...
Panoramic View From 'Rocknest' Position of Curiosity Mars Rover: A mosaic of images taken by the Mast Camera on NASA Mars rover Curiosity while the rover was working at a site called "Rocknest" in October & November 2012.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
A hydrocarbon river near the north pole of Saturn moon Titan  photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft ...
A hydrocarbon river near the north pole of Saturn moon Titan, photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 26, 2012. The river valley stretches more than 200 miles from its ‘source’ to a large hydrocarbon sea.
NASA/JPL
NASA s IRIS solar atmospheric observatory witnessed its strongest Solar Flare on Jan 28 2014  since ...
NASA's IRIS solar atmospheric observatory witnessed its strongest Solar Flare on Jan 28 2014, since launching in 2013.
NASA
Artist s impression of Curiosity rover on the Martian surface
Artist's impression of Curiosity rover on the Martian surface
NASA/JPL-Caltech
The surface of Venus was scanned with radar waves beamed from orbiting space probes to produce this ...
The surface of Venus was scanned with radar waves beamed from orbiting space probes to produce this image. The colors are based on photos taken by probes that landed on Venus.
NASA
The orbits of planets in the Gliese 581 system are compared to those of our own solar system. The Gl...
The orbits of planets in the Gliese 581 system are compared to those of our own solar system. The Gliese 581 star has about 30 percent the mass of our Sun, and the outermost planet is closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun. The 4th planet, G, is a planet that could sustain life.
Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
The Solar System  including the objects in question during the IAU s recent planet definition debate...
The Solar System, including the objects in question during the IAU's recent planet definition debate : Ceres, Pluto-Charon, and Eris.
The International Astronomical Union/Martin Kornmesser
Based on new evidence from Jupiter s moon Europa  astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble...
Based on new evidence from Jupiter's moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon's global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter's innermost large moon
NASA / JPL / Artist's concept
An artist s concept of the Oort cloud. Note that the distance scale is logarithmic. Compared to the ...
An artist's concept of the Oort cloud. Note that the distance scale is logarithmic. Compared to the size of planetary orbits, the Oort cloud is very far away. If the Sun passed within 2 light years of another sun-like star, the stars' Oort clouds would overlap and their comets would intermingle.
Image credit: ESO