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E.g., 12/15/2017
E.g., 12/15/2017
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  • News in Brief

    New Horizons’ next target might have a moon

    NEW ORLEANS — The New Horizons team may get more than it bargained for with its next target. Currently known as 2014 MU69, the object might, in fact, be two rocks orbiting each other — and those rocks may themselves host a small moon.

    MU69 orbits the sun in the Kuiper Belt, a region more than 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth. That distance makes it difficult to get pictures of the...

    12/12/2017 - 18:49 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Jupiter’s massive Great Red Spot is at least 350 kilometers deep

    NEW ORLEANS — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has deep roots. Data from the first pass of NASA’s Juno spacecraft over the incessant storm show that its clouds stretch at least 350 kilometers down into the planet’s atmosphere. That means the storm is about as deep as the International Space Station is high above the Earth.

    Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4, 2016, and it made its first...

    12/12/2017 - 16:31 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Watching this newborn island erode could tell us a lot about Mars

    NEW ORLEANS — Earth’s youngest bit of land is getting a new lease on life. When an erupting volcano birthed an island in the Pacific Ocean in late 2014, scientists thought waves would erode the island away within just a few months. Instead, new data suggest it could stick around for up to 30 years, researchers reported December 11 at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union’s fall...

    12/11/2017 - 17:48 Earth, Oceans, Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Saturn’s rings mess with the gas giant’s atmosphere

    NEW ORLEANS — Saturn’s mighty rings cast a long shadow on the gas giant — and not just in visible light.

    Final observations from the Cassini spacecraft show that the rings block the sunlight that charges particles in Saturn’s atmosphere. The rings may even be raining charged water particles onto the planet, researchers report online December 11 in Science and at the fall meeting of the...

    12/11/2017 - 17:38 Planetary Science
  • News

    Most complete map of Titan reveals connected seas and cookie-cutter lakes

    Liquid methane and ethane flow through a subterranean plumbing system on Titan, which drains lakes and connects seas. That’s one of the first scientific results from the latest, most complete map of the Saturnian moon’s topography.

    Planetary scientist Paul Corlies of Cornell University and colleagues released the map — based on all the data from NASA’s Cassini mission, which ended in...

    12/08/2017 - 12:40 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    We still don’t know where the first interstellar asteroid came from

    ISO: A home for a stray space rock. Astronomers are tracking the motions of stars to figure out which one sent an alien asteroid speeding past Earth in October — but they may never find the rock’s true origins.

    Officially named ‘Oumuamua, the asteroid was spotted by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii on October 18 (SN: 11/25/17, p. 14). Its inbound speed of about 25.5 kilometers per...

    12/01/2017 - 11:38 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Here is Cassini’s last broad look at the Saturn system

    Two days before plunging into Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft took one last look around the planet it had orbited for more than 13 years.

    The view of Saturn above, released November 21, is actually made from 42 images that have been stitched together. Six moons — Enceladus, Epimetheus, Janus, Mimas, Pandora and Prometheus — are faintly visible as dots surrounding the gas giant (see the...

    11/22/2017 - 06:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Haze keeps Pluto cool by kicking heat out to space

    Blame Pluto’s haze for the dwarf planet’s unexpected chilliness. Clusters of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere radiate heat back into space, keeping the dwarf planet cool, a new study suggests. Pluto may be the only world in the solar system whose atmospheric temperature is controlled by solid particles, rather than gas, researchers report in the Nov. 16 Nature.

    Most planets’ temperatures...

    11/15/2017 - 13:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    NASA wants your help naming New Horizons’ next destination

    NASA’s New Horizons mission needs a catchier nickname for its next destination. The bar isn’t exactly high.

    On New Year’s Day 2019, the spacecraft will fly by the tiny Kuiper Belt world that bears the official designation of (486958) 2014 MU69. NASA announced Monday that it is asking the public for an easier-to-remember nickname. The SETI Institute is hosting the contest.

    As with...

    11/07/2017 - 14:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    A sandy core may have kept Enceladus’ ocean warm

    A soft heart keeps Enceladus warm from the inside. Friction within its porous core could help Saturn’s icy moon maintain a liquid ocean for billions of years and explain why it sprays plumes from its south pole, astronomers report November 6 in Nature Astronomy.

    Observations in 2015 showed that Enceladus’ icy surface is a shell that’s completely detached from its rocky core, meaning the...

    11/06/2017 - 11:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science