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E.g., 06/25/2019
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  • News in Brief

    Saturn’s moon Titan sports phantom hydrocarbon lakes

    Three lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan have up and vanished.

    Researchers previously had seen evidence that Titan’s lakes, filled with hydrocarbons like methane and ethane, shrink during the moon’s summer. But a new analysis of data from the defunct Cassini spacecraft offers the first glimpse of lakes completely disappearing off the face of the moon. The discovery of these phantom lakes...

    04/15/2019 - 11:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Israel’s first moon mission lost moments before landing

    Israel’s first lunar lander, Beresheet, appears to have crash-landed on the moon.

    The spacecraft, launched by the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL, was scheduled to touch down on the lunar surface on April 11. But in the final few minutes of its descent, the spacecraft’s engine stalled. Mission control reset Beresheet to bring its engine back online, but then communication with the lander cut...

    04/11/2019 - 17:06 Planetary Science
  • Editor's Note

    The delight of discovering an asteroid that spits

    These are wondrous times for space exploration. Just when you think exploring the cosmos couldn’t possibly get more fun, another discovery delivers a new “oh wow” moment.

    Consider the asteroid Bennu. It’s an unprepossessing space rock that drew scientists’ curiosity because it is among the most pristine objects in our solar system, and it might provide clues to the origins of life....

    04/07/2019 - 07:15 Science & Society, Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Hayabusa2 has blasted the surface of asteroid Ryugu to make a crater

    Hayabusa2 has blasted the asteroid Ryugu with a projectile, probably adding a crater to the small world’s surface and stirring up dust that scientists hope to snag.

    The projectile, a two-kilogram copper cylinder, separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft at 9:56 p.m. EDT on April 4, JAXA, Japan’s space agency, reports.

    Hayabusa2 flew to the other side of the asteroid to hide from...

    04/05/2019 - 13:44 Planetary Science
  • News

    This planetary remnant somehow survived the death of its sun

    Against all odds, a small planetary body called a planetesimal has survived the infernal death of its sunlike star and now orbits the white dwarf that remains.

    When most planet-hosting stars run out of hydrogen fuel, they blow out their outer shells of gas, obliterating anything within their inner solar systems and leaving behind a dead star called a white dwarf. Planets orbiting farther...

    04/04/2019 - 14:00 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Metal asteroids may have once had iron-spewing volcanoes

    Imagine a metal asteroid spewing molten iron, and you’ve got the gist of ferrovolcanism — a new type of planetary activity proposed recently by two research teams.

    When NASA launches a probe to a metal asteroid called Psyche in 2022, planetary scientists will be able to search for signs of such volcanic activity in the object’s past. The new research “is the first time anyone has worked...

    04/03/2019 - 13:23 Planetary Science
  • News

    Saturn’s rings paint some of its moons shades of blue and red

    Saturn’s rings are painting its innermost moons.

    Data from NASA’s now-defunct Cassini spacecraft show that five odd-shaped moons embedded in Saturn’s rings are different colors, and that the hues come from the rings themselves, researchers report. That observation could help scientists figure out how the moons were born.

    “The ring moons and the rings themselves are kind of one and...

    03/28/2019 - 14:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Kuiper Belt dust may be in our atmosphere (and NASA labs) right now

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Grains of dust from the edge of the solar system could be finding their way to Earth. And NASA may already have a handful of the debris, researchers report. 

    With an estimated 40,000 tons of space dust settling in Earth’s stratosphere every year, the U.S. space agency has been flying balloon and aircraft missions since the 1970s to collect samples. The particles,...

    03/27/2019 - 09:52 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Ryugu is probably a chip off one of these two other asteroids

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The asteroid Ryugu is a chip off the old block. Planetary scientists on the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft team have narrowed down the near-Earth asteroid’s parent body to one of two larger, more distant asteroids: Polana and Eulalia.

    “Based on links to those specific asteroids, we can talk about the longer history of Ryugu,” said planetary scientist Seiji Sugita of...

    03/20/2019 - 15:20 Planetary Science
  • News

    Surprising astronomers, Bennu spits plumes of dust into space

    THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Like the “Peanuts” character Pigpen, the near-Earth asteroid Bennu moves around in a cloud of its own dust.

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has watched Bennu spit out plumes of dust 11 times since the spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in December 2018. And some of that dust is caught in orbit around the asteroid, scientists announced March 19 at the Lunar and...

    03/19/2019 - 14:55 Planetary Science