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Solar system News

Meet synestia, a new type of planetary object

Astrophysicists are proposing a new type of planetary object which they’ve named a 'synestia'. By this they are referring to a large, rotating, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock.

Is frost present on the Moon?

Houston - Although it has been studied with regularity and visited several times, the Moon continues to present surprises. It appears that bright areas in craters near the moon's south pole are cold enough to have frost present.

Atmosphere of Jupiter surprisingly 'exotic'

Houston - NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter has delivered first science results and the findings suggest the biggest planet in our solar system is more complex than previously thought.

Most of the Martian atmosphere was lost to space

Mars is much like Earth in many ways and billions of years ago when the Sun was hotter, scientists speculate that Mars could possibly had water and life. One longstanding mystery, in relation to this theory concerns, the Martian atmosphere.

The Sun had no sunspots for two weeks

Reading - Astronomers working for NASA regularly monitor the Sun and note down any unusual patterns. Last month the Solar Dynamics Observatory flagged up something unusual: there were no sunspots for a 15 day period.

NASA scientists want Pluto to become a planet again

A group of NASA scientists want Pluto’s status as a planet restored. Eleven years ago, the ninth planet in the solar system was downgraded to that of a dwarf planet. To scientists who are working on journeys to Pluto, that is simply not good enough.

Essential Science: What would landing on Pluto be like?

This week’s Essential Science takes a step into speculative science (fiction) and discusses some new research that wonders what landing on the surface of the dwarf planet Pluto would be like.

The moon is older than previously thought

The moon is probably 40 to 140 million years older than previously thought. This is based on new analysis of samples brought back from Apollo 14 which have been subjected to more sophisticated testing.

Scientists develop new theory on how Earth's moon was formed

A new theory about how Earth’s moon was formed has been advanced. It speculates that several extra-terrestrial objects struck Earth creating a series of small moons or moonlets. These moonlets gradually merged to form the moon we see today.

Sun spins faster on the outside than on the inside

Despite being relatively close to Earth and a well-studied phenomenon there is still much to learn about the Sun. New research by international astronomers has helped to make an important new discovery about our closest star.

'Death Star' that eats planets discovered

Analysis of the star located 300 light years from Earth showed materials in the body indicating the star has swallowed some of the planets orbiting it. Similar to our Sun, the star provides clues about our own solar system and what is likely to happen.

Essential Science: Mystery of Mercury’s Great Valley

Mercury has long been regarded as one of the Solar System’s more mysterious planets. Despite decades of observations by astronomers new points of interest appear. The latest is with the planet’s great valley.

Weird blue mass detected in front of the Sun

Houston - NASA has reported an unusual phenomenon: a strange blue mass in front of the Sun. The object was detected by the Stereo satellites, and it appeared to pass across the face of the star.

Water detected on asteroid named Psyche

Houston - Water has been detected water on the largest metallic asteroid in the solar system by a team of NASA scientists. The asteroid is called Psyche and it could become the target of a space mission.

Scientists warn Earth to prepare for killer asteroid

Houston - It may seem like the plot of a sci-fi disaster movie, but NASA scientists have given serious consideration of how the Earth should defend itself against an asteroid should such a space rock be on a collision course with our planet.

X-ray mystery surrounds Pluto

Houston - The dwarf planet Pluto continues to tantalize. This follows news that stream of photons have been detected streaming from the planet and into space. The mystery is the planet has no obvious way of making these high-energy photons.

Strange swirling hexagonal structure on Saturn spotted

Houston - The Cassini probe, investigating Saturn, has detected a strange swirling structure, hexagonal in shape, at the north pole of the planet. The structure appears to regularly change color.

More moons detected orbiting Uranus

Houston - The number of moons around Uranus is a matter of scientific debate within the astronomy community. Despite the Voyager probe visiting the planet three decades ago, data collected is still being discussed.

Clouds spotted swirling around Pluto

Despite the downgrading of Pluto from a planet (and the ninth in the solar system) to a dwarf planet, much about the far-flung celestial object remains a mystery. A new puzzle involves the presence of clouds.

Solar system is much bigger than we thought

The size of the solar system, that’s Earth and the planets that orbit the Sun, is much bigger than previous calculations indicated.

Mars once had many moons

Mars, the red planet that is most like Earth in our solar system, once had several moons. It is thought the satellites now form part of the asteroid belt.

NASA detects new moon in our solar system

Houston - A new moon around a dwarf planet has been detected beyond the reaches of Pluto. This has been detected by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

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.
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Monday s launch of the Chang e-3 lunar mission took place at 1:30 am local time  from the Xichang Sa...
Monday's launch of the Chang'e-3 lunar mission took place at 1:30 am local time, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province,
Xinhua Official Chinese News Agency
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 illustration shows a planetary scale impact on the Moon
Artist’s illustration shows a planetary scale impact on the Moon
W.K. Hartmann via LLNL
NASA s Dawn spacecraft viewed this Cerean crater  which is covered in ridges and steep slopes  calle...
NASA's Dawn spacecraft viewed this Cerean crater, which is covered in ridges and steep slopes, called scarps on Dec. 23, 2015. Such likely resulted when the crater partly collapsed during its formation. The curvilinear nature of the scarps resembles those on the floor of Rheasilvia, the giant impact crater on Vesta, which Dawn orbited from 2011 to 2012. The 20-mile-wide (32-kilometer-wide) crater is located just west of the larger, named crater Dantu at northern mid-latitudes on Ceres.
NASA/JPL
Illustration showing the scale and comparative brightness of Pluto’s small satellites. Pluto’s b...
Illustration showing the scale and comparative brightness of Pluto’s small satellites. Pluto’s binary companion, Charon, is at the bottom for scale. The image illustrates that two of the moons are highly oblate and that the reflectivity among the moons varies from dark charcoal to the brightness of sand.Hubble can't resolve surface features on the moons so textures are purely for illustration purposes.
NASA, ESA, A. Field (STScI)
A false-color view of Saturn s moon Hyperion revealing crisp details across the strange  tumbling mo...
A false-color view of Saturn's moon Hyperion revealing crisp details across the strange, tumbling moon's surface. Differences in color may represent differences in the composition of surface materials. Taken during Cassini's close flyby on Sept. 26, 2005.
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Artist s impression of the stationary NASA Mars lander  known by the acronym InSight  studying the i...
Artist's impression of the stationary NASA Mars lander, known by the acronym InSight, studying the interior of Mars. The InSight mission (for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is scheduled to launch in March 2016, landing on Mars 6 months later.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Valles Marineris on Mars
Valles Marineris on Mars
ESA DLR Mars Express
Europa  Jupiter s ice covered satellite  as seen by the Galileo spacecraft. Europa is about 3 160 ki...
Europa, Jupiter's ice covered satellite, as seen by the Galileo spacecraft. Europa is about 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) in diameter, or about the size of Earth's moon. The image was taken on September 7, 1996, at a range of 677,000 kilometers.
Wikimedia Commons
Untitled
NASA
An artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young plan...
An artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometers.
ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)
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
Dunes in an ancient Martian valley  Mawrth Vallis  remarkably similar in shape to the Star Trek logo...
Dunes in an ancient Martian valley, Mawrth Vallis, remarkably similar in shape to the Star Trek logo, appear to march across the surface of Mars.
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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
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
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
This global view of Jupiter s moon  Io  was obtained during the tenth orbit of Jupiter by NASA s Gal...
This global view of Jupiter's moon, Io, was obtained during the tenth orbit of Jupiter by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Io, which is slightly larger than Earth's Moon, is the most volcanically active body in the solar system.
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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.
Artist s impression of Curiosity rover on the Martian surface
Artist's impression of Curiosity rover on the Martian surface
NASA/JPL-Caltech
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

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