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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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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
The Pluto system as we know it today. Four small moons--Styx  Nix  Kerberos and Hydra  orbit the cen...
The Pluto system as we know it today. Four small moons--Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra, orbit the central "binary planet" comprising Pluto and its large, nearby moon Charon.
NASA/STScI/Showalter
Unusual orbit of Planet X or Planet Nine
Unusual orbit of Planet X or Planet Nine
Caltech
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
Untitled
NASA
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
Ceres in solar system
Ceres in solar system
UCIrvine
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
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
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 sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers.
The sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers.
NASA
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
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
An illustration of the planets and other major bodies of the Solar System
An illustration of the planets and other major bodies of the Solar System
Illustration: NASA
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
A false-color image from NASA s Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn s north pole. The ey...
A false-color image from NASA's Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn's north pole. The eye of a hurricane-like storm appears dark red while the fast-moving hexagonal jet stream framing it is a yellowish green.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
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
Pluto as seen by New Horizons at a distance of 800 000 kilometers. This image taken July clearly sho...
Pluto as seen by New Horizons at a distance of 800,000 kilometers. This image taken July clearly shows two darker areas thought to cmprise tholins deposited on Pluto's surface
John Hopkins University
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)
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.