Europa’s frozen landscape could be treacherous territory for future lunar landers.
Jagged spires of ice may stud the Jovian moon’s equator, researchers report October 8 in Nature Geosciences. These structures, called penitentes, could reach heights of 15 meters and occur roughly every 7.5 meters, computer simulations show, potentially rendering parts of the moon unnavigable in future...
The “ring rain” of material falling from Saturn’s rings into the planet’s atmosphere is a much more intense, contaminated downpour than scientists thought.
For decades, astronomers have suspected that Saturn’s rings pelt the planet with grains of water ice, but some of the final observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provide the first detailed views of these celestial showers (SN: 4...
Christopher Hamilton, 39Planetary scienceUniversity of Arizona09/26/2018 - 08:32 Earth, Planetary Science
Christopher Hamilton wanted to be an architect.
Yet the planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson is exploring a very different kind of built environment: the strange structures created by volcanoes on worlds across the solar system, from Earth to Mars to the moon.
And he’s using an unusually...
Letters to the Editor
Life signs09/26/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Pollution, Technology
Scientists estimate that there are roughly 10 billion liters of liquid water beneath a polar glacier on Mars, Lisa Grossman reported in “Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water” (SN: 8/18/18 & 9/1/18, p. 6).
Some online readers wondered what the detection meant for the possibility of life on the Red Planet.
Grossman wrote about the lake’s implications for life...
News in Brief
Editor’s note: This story has been periodically updated to reflect the rovers' progress on Ryugu.
The first rovers to explore the surface of an asteroid have landed. After touching down September 21, the vehicles took pictures of asteroid Ryugu and at least one hopped around.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which arrived at the near-Earth asteroid on June 27 after a journey of more...
Scientists have spotted the ghosts of nearly two dozen ice volcanoes on dwarf planet Ceres.
Found using topographic maps from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the slumped remains of once-grand cones suggest that Ceres has experienced continual eruptions for billions of years, the researchers report September 17 in Nature Astronomy.
When Dawn arrived at Ceres in 2015, scientists noticed just...
News in Brief
A new hexagon has emerged high in the skies over Saturn’s north pole.
As spring turned to summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere, a six-sided vortex appeared in the stratosphere. Surprisingly, the polar polygon seems to mirror the famous hexagonal cyclone that swirls in the clouds hundreds of kilometers below, researchers report online September 3 in Nature Communications.
News in Brief
If Earth’s magnetic field resembles that of a bar magnet, Jupiter’s field looks like someone took a bar magnet, bent it in half and splayed it at both ends.
The field emerges in a broad swath across Jupiter’s northern hemisphere and re-enters the planet both around the south pole and in a concentrated spot just south of the equator, researchers report in the Sept. 6 Nature.
News in Brief
With Martian skies finally clearing after a massive dust storm, NASA engineers have their fingers crossed that the Opportunity rover will soon phone home.
Opportunity has been hunkered down in Mars’ Perseverance Valley since early June, caught in a storm that has grown to envelop the entire Red Planet. Since so little sunlight can reach the rover’s solar panels through the haze,...
New Horizons has its next destination in sight.
The spacecraft, which buzzed Pluto in 2015, captured its first images on August 16 of the remote icy world nicknamed Ultima Thule, confirming that New Horizons is on track for its January 1 flyby. With about 160 million kilometers to go — roughly the same distance as Earth is from the sun — the tiny world appears as no more than a faint...