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Solar system News

Essential Science: Mystery of Jupiter’s unusual storms revealed

The appearance of dazzlingly geometric storm patterns on Jupiter's south pole have confounded scientists for decades. Now researchers think they have an answer to the climatic mysteries of the super-sized planet.

NASA's Cassini reveals the mysteries of Titan's lakes

NASA's Cassini has revealed some surprises with Titan's lakes, as images of the flyby are processed by scientists. Recent analysis shows that the small liquid lakes in Titan's northern hemisphere are surprisingly deep.

Essential Science: Most-distant solar system object ever observed

An astronomical story to close out the year. The most-distant solar system object ever observed has been detected by astronomers. The outer solar system objects is described as a 'far out there' dwarf planet.

Hyabusa2 rovers send back stunning images of Ryugu

On September 21, the Japanese space agency JAXA made history by safely landing two tiny rovers on the rugged terrain of an asteroid. The first images were astounding, simply because they proved the little rovers were working, but check out the new images.

Essential Science: How our Sun went through the 'terrible twos'

Astrophysicists, looking into the early phase of our Sun, have been studying, in conjunction, blue crystals in meteorites. These crystals show that our Sun went through the astronomical equivalent of the 'terrible twos'.

New moon for Jupiter discovered, dubbed 'Oddball'

A dozen new moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered. This incubuses one dubbed, for the time being at least, called 'Oddball'. The discovery brings the total of Jupiter's moons to 79.

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.
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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 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
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
V838 Mon  a star with an expanding gas shell  purported as photographic evidence of Nibiru
V838 Mon, a star with an expanding gas shell, purported as photographic evidence of Nibiru
NASA
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
Untitled
NASA
Artist s image of the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun
Artist's image of the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun
Caltech/R Hurt (IPAC)
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
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
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
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
Artist s impression of ESA s Rosetta comet chaser and lander
Artist's impression of ESA's Rosetta comet chaser and lander
Wikimedia Commons - By Rosetta_philae NASA derivative work
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.
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
Untitled
NASA
Viewed at 261 000 miles (419 000 kilometers) from Saturn  the vortex of a massive polar hurricane ar...
Viewed at 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn, the vortex of a massive polar hurricane around Saturn's north pole.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Ceres in solar system
Ceres in solar system
UCIrvine
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)
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
Unusual orbit of Planet X or Planet Nine
Unusual orbit of Planet X or Planet Nine
Caltech

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