A space ravioli. A planetary baguette. A cosmic Kaiser roll. Some of Saturn’s moons have shapes that are strangely reminiscent of culinary concoctions.
Images of the oddball moons, mostly from the now-defunct Cassini spacecraft (SN Online: 9/15/17), got planetary scientists wondering how these satellites ended up with such strange shapes. Now, researchers suggest that collisions between...
Editor's note: The Chang’e-4 relay satellite successfully lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch center at 5:28 a.m. Beijing time on May 21 (5:28 p.m. EDT on May 20).
The Chinese space program is set to launch a satellite aimed at supporting future communications from a planned mission to the farside of the moon.
The Chang’e-4 mission, which will include a rover and a lander...
Letters to the Editor
Jazzed by Jupiter05/16/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Planetary Science, Microbiology
Polar cyclones, a surprisingly deep atmosphere and a spin reminiscent of solid masses are among the latest discoveries the Juno spacecraft has made as it orbits Jupiter, Christopher Crockett reported in “4 surprising things we just learned about Jupiter” (SN: 3/31/18, p. 10).
The findings astonished readers on Reddit.
“Jupiter is one of those things [that]...
Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may have been spitting into space for at least 20 years. Analyzing old Galileo mission data suggests that the NASA spacecraft flew through a plume of water vapor from the moon during a 1997 flyby, researchers report May 14 in Nature Astronomy.
“We now have very compelling support for the idea that Europa does possess plumes,” says study coauthor Xianzhe Jia, a...
With a mortar and pestle, Christy Till blends together the makings of a distant planet. In her geology lab at Arizona State University in Tempe, Till carefully measures out powdered minerals, tips them into a metal capsule and bakes them in a high-pressure furnace that can reach close to 35,000 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and 2,000° Celsius.
In this interplanetary test kitchen,...
Reviews & Previews
Chasing New HorizonsAlan Stern and David GrinspoonPicador, $28
The world tracked the New Horizons’ spacecraft with childlike glee as it flew by Pluto in 2015. The probe provided the first ever close-up of the place that many of us grew up considering the ninth planet. Pluto revealed itself as a fascinating world, with a shifting surface (SN: 12/26/15, p. 16), a hazy atmosphere (SN...
Mars is about to get its first internal checkup. The InSight lander, set to launch at 7:05 a.m. EDT on May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will probe the Red Planet’s innards by tracking seismic waves and taking its temperature.
Finding out what Mars’ interior is like could help scientists learn how the Red Planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, and how other rocky planets...
News in Brief
It was the eclipse felt ‘round the world. The August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse that crossed the United States launched a wave in the upper atmosphere that was detected nearly an hour later from Brazil (SN Online: 8/11/17).
“The eclipse itself is a local phenomenon, but our study shows that it had effects around the world,” says space scientist Brian Harding of the University of...
Shooting small rocks from a high-speed cannon showed that some asteroids could have brought water to the early Earth — without all the water boiling away on impact, a new study finds.
“We can’t bring an asteroid to Earth and crash it into the Earth, bad things would happen,” says planetary geologist R. Terik Daly, who did the research while a graduate student at Brown University in...
News in Brief
Uranus’ upper clouds are made of hydrogen sulfide — the same molecule that gives rotten eggs their noxious odor.
“At the risk of schoolboy sniggers, if you were there, flying through the clouds of Uranus, yes, you’d get this pungent, rather disastrous smell,” says planetary scientist Leigh Fletcher of the University of Leicester in England.
Using a spectrograph on the Gemini North...