We have known about the water on Enceladus for a while now. Hydrothermal vents at its southern pole shoot water vapor into space, high enough and big enough to be seen hundreds of thousands of miles away. But now, thanks to some clever analysis of the wobble in its orbit around Saturn, we now know something else about it: that water comprises an ocean that spans the entire globe, just under its solid crust.
NASA worked out the answer to the puzzle of whether Enceladus had a global ocean using research from Cassini, a spacecraft launched in 1997 that arrived at Saturn in 2004 and has spent the last decade studying the planet and its many moons.
Enceladus isn’t the only worldlet in our Solar System that jets liquids from its surface, and once Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn it was to confirm that the moon was spouting water. But while there had been suspicions that Enceladus had a subsurface sea, nobody really knew for sure how big that sea was. In this latest study of the gathered data, however, the researchers noticed a wobble in its orbit that “can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior.”
In other words, Enceladus sloshes.
Robotic Flyers: The Future of Space Exploration?
By: David Dickinson | August 18, 2015
Flying robot explorers could one day grace the skies of other worlds. Quadcopters, the four-propeller drones that have become a familiar sight in terrestrial skies, may be the next big thing in space exploration. Engineers based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the Florida Space Coast are working on the next generation of robotic scouts to take planetary exploration airborne.
The facility, known as Swamp Works, is designing small flying probes which will be capable of reaching hard-to-access spots, such as crater walls or crevasses.
From Sky and Telescope
Watching Starbirth in Real Time
By: Monica Young
April 7, 2015
A team of astronomers took the long view (18 years long, in fact) and caught a star in the act of forming.
Astronomers must often piece together patchwork quilts of observations to learn the history of the universe. Stars and galaxies usually evolve over time scales much longer than human lives, so rather than watch individual stars or galaxies develop, observers sew together images of many objects at different stages to tell their life story.
But every now and then, a star tells its own story.
In a star-forming region dubbed W75N(B), Carlos Carrasco-González (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and his colleagues watched what will one day be a massive and luminous B star evolve over a period of 18 years.
As the protostar grew, drawing in gas from its surroundings, it threw off a small fraction of those particles in a protostellar wind. Back in 1996, observations showed this wind streaming outward in all directions. But 18 years later, the team reported in the April 3rd Science, the wind had transformed, flowing faster and farther along the star’s poles. Seen in real-time, the wind’s changing shape reveals how the forming star responds to its surroundings.
Taken from an article in Tech Times: NASA Dawn Gets Up Close And Personal in Dwarf Planet Ceres Photo Shoot. Oh well, there go my hopes of it being an alien homeship.. though I suppose if it sat there collecting dust and ice long enough... :) Meanwhile, sure looks pretty from a distance (this IS about 8.5 miles/pixel.)
And for some reason this idiot program won't let me capitalize Ceres in the tags. Frump...
The Huffington Post | By Macrina Cooper-White
Posted: 01/28/2015 8:38 am EST Updated: 01/28/2015 9:59 am EST
Call it Saturn on steroids! Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet with an enormous ring system that far surpasses Saturn's.
“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” Dr. Eric Mamajek, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester and the leader of the team of astronomers, said in a written statement. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”
Artist’s conception of the extrasolar ring system around exoplanet J1407b. The rings are shown
eclipsing the young sun-like star J1407, as they would have appeared in early 2007.
NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Wakes Up for Pluto Encounter in 2015
by Calla Cofield, Space.com Staff Writer | December 07, 2014 09:12am ET
LAUREL, Md. — Pluto, get ready for your close-up: A NASA spacecraft has roused itself from the final slumber of its nine-year trek to the edge of the solar system, setting the stage for the first close encounter with Pluto next year.
The New Horizons spacecraft, currently located 2.9 billion miles (4.6 billion kilometers) from Earth, had been in hibernation since August — with most of its systems turned off to reduce wear. But late Saturday (Dec. 6), mission scientists received a confirmation signal from New Horizons at the probe's Mission Operations Center here at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The probe is now wide awake for its 2015 flyby of Pluto.At the time of its wakeup call, New Horizons was just over 162 million miles (261 million km) from Pluto. About 20 people gathered in a conference room here at APL to await the signal from New Horizons. (more)
See also the Space.com article: Skydiver goes Supersonic in Record Breaking "Near-Space Dive"
Jupiter's Moon Europa May Have Plate Tectonics Just Like Earth
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | September 08, 2014 11:30am ET
Scientists have found evidence of an active plate tectonics system within the ice shell of Jupiter's moon Europa. Earth has long been thought to be the only solar system body with plate tectonics.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk
Jupiter's icy moon Europa, regarded as perhaps the solar system's best bet to host alien life, keeps getting more and more interesting.
Big slabs of ice are sliding over and under each other within Europa's ice shell, a new study suggests. The Jovian satellite may thus be the only solar system body besides Earth to possess a system of plate tectonics.
Charles Q. Choi, Space.com Contributor | June 25, 2014 01:01pm ET
Scientists have just discovered a distant galaxy with not one but three supermassive black holes at its core.
The new finding suggests that tight-knit groups of these giant black holes are far more common than previously thought, and it potentially reveals a new way to easily detect them, researchers say. Supermassive black holes millions to billions of times the mass of the sun are thought to lurk at the hearts of virtually every large galaxy in the universe.
Most galaxies have just one supermassive black hole at their center. However, galaxies evolve through merging, and merged galaxies can sometimes possess multiple supermassive black holes.
Astronomers observed a galaxy with the alphabet soup name of SDSS J150243.09+111557.3, which they suspected might have a pair of supermassive black holes. It lies about 4.2 billion light-years away from Earth, about "one-third of the way across the universe," said lead study author Roger Deane, a radio astronomer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Japan to Test Space Junk Cleanup Tether Soon
By Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer Space.com
January 17, 2014 06:30am ET
Japanese scientists are getting ready to launch a test of a space junk-cleaning tether, according to press reports.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) researchers are developing an electrodynamic tether designed to generate electricity that will slow down space-based debris, according to a report from Agence France Presse.
The slowed-down space junk will fall into lower and lower orbits until burning up harmlessly in Earth's atmosphere.
|(excuse me if this looks weird - I'm experimenting with just transferring quotes over in one piece rather than cleaning up the html.)|
Where are Io’s volcanoes?By Staff, The Space Reporter
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Proving that the galaxy never ceases to surprise us, a study published in January’s Earth and Planetary Science Letters claims that hundreds of volcanoes on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Io have somehow shifted.
Conducted by NASA and the ESA, the study was spearheaded by Christopher Hamilton, who serves as an Earth and planetary scientist for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Having studied how patterns of volcanoes aid in the exploration of a planet or moon’s internal design, Hamilton sought to apply the same idea to Io by mapping the moon’s surface with data from the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft. The results were unexpected.
“Our analysis supports the prevailing view that most of the heat is generated in the asthenosphere, but we found that volcanic activity is located 30 to 60 degrees East from where we expect it to be,” said Hamilton.
Setting Sail Into Space, Propelled by Sunshine
By Dennis Overbye
Peter Pan would be so happy.
About a year from now, if all goes well, a box about the size of a loaf of bread will pop out of a rocket some 500 miles above the Earth. There in the vacuum it will unfurl four triangular sails as shiny as moonlight and only barely more substantial. Then it will slowly rise on a sunbeam and move across the stars.
LightSail-1, as it is dubbed, will not make it to Neverland. At best the device will sail a few hours and gain a few miles in altitude. But those hours will mark a milestone for a dream that is almost as old as the rocket age itself, and as romantic: to navigate the cosmos on winds of starlight the way sailors for thousands of years have navigated the ocean on the winds of the Earth.
“Sailing on light is the only technology that can someday take us to the stars,” said Louis Friedman, director of the Planetary Society, the worldwide organization of space enthusiasts.
(here for the rest of the article)