18
Apr
The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft results from gravitational effects on ring particles by an object that may be replaying the birth process of icy moons.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Saturn may have a baby moon forming, named Peggy.

Story at NPR.

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft results from gravitational effects on ring particles by an object that may be replaying the birth process of icy moons.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Saturn may have a baby moon forming, named Peggy.

Story at NPR.

9
Apr
Image: Cutaway showing what may be happening below Enceladus’ frozen exterior. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Found at Wired, you can read Adam Mann’s article here.

The Cassini data suggests that the Enceladus ocean contains about the same mass as Lake Superior. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in scale. The moon’s ocean is on average six miles deep, comparable to some of the deepest spots on our world’s oceans. Not bad for a tiny world dwarfed in size by our own.

Image: Cutaway showing what may be happening below Enceladus’ frozen exterior. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Found at Wired, you can read Adam Mann’s article here.

The Cassini data suggests that the Enceladus ocean contains about the same mass as Lake Superior. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in scale. The moon’s ocean is on average six miles deep, comparable to some of the deepest spots on our world’s oceans. Not bad for a tiny world dwarfed in size by our own.

26
Mar

heythereuniverse:

NASA plans a robotic mission to search for life on Europa | io9

It looks like it’s finally going to happen, an actual mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa — one of the the solar system’s best candidates for hosting alien life.

Yesterday, NASA announced an injection of $17.5 billion from the federal government (down by $1.2 billion from its 2010 peak). Of this, $15 million will be allocated for “pre-formulation” work on a mission to Europa, with plans to make detailed observations from orbit and possibly sample its interior oceans with a robotic probe. Mission details are sparse, but if all goes well, it could be launched by 2025 and arriving in the early 2030s.

This is incredibly exciting. Recent evidence points to a reasonable chance of habitability. Its massive subsurface ocean contains almost twice as much water as found on Earth. The water is kept in liquid state owing to the gravitational forces exerted by Jupiter and the moon’s turbulent global ocean currents. The good news is that a probe may not have to dig very deep to conduct its search for life; the moon’s massive plumes are ejecting water directly onto the surface.

[Read more]

I am old enough that I measure such missions against my own potential mortality. I would like us to go and land on Europa before I die.

(via thescienceofreality)

15
Mar
humanoidhistory:

Look at that! Spanish amateur Fernando Garcia Navarro took some 2005 Cassini raw images of Saturn when it was crossing the plane of the planet’s rings. Set in representative colors, we see Saturn’s thin ring plane, which is, according to NASA, proportionally thinner than a razor blade. (NASA)

humanoidhistory:

Look at that! Spanish amateur Fernando Garcia Navarro took some 2005 Cassini raw images of Saturn when it was crossing the plane of the planet’s rings. Set in representative colors, we see Saturn’s thin ring plane, which is, according to NASA, proportionally thinner than a razor blade. (NASA)

14
Mar