NASA's Europa Mission Facing Possible Budget Cuts in 2017

Artist's conception of the Europa Clipper spacecraft near Europa. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception of the Europa Clipper spacecraft near Europa. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For a long time now, there has been growing interest in sending a mission back to Jupiter to better study one moon in particular: Europa. Previous missions such as Voyager and Galileo showed us this world up close for the first time, […]

Does Pluto Have a Subsurface Ocean? New Research Says Probably

The discovery of huge faults on Pluto provides evidence for a possible liquid water ocean beneath the ice crust. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The discovery of huge faults on Pluto provides evidence for a possible liquid water ocean beneath the ice crust. Photo Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

So-called “waterworlds” have been found to be surprisingly common in the Solar System—small icy moons which have ice crusts but oceans of liquid water below the surface. These include Jupiter’s moons Europa and […]

All Good Things: Countdown Begins Toward Cassini's 'Grand Finale' Around Saturn

Artist's concept of Cassini's final orbits between the Saturn's innermost rings and the planet's cloud tops. This set of orbits will consist the last leg of Cassini's mission, called 'The Grand Finale', which will culminate with a plunge on Saturn's atmosphere on September 2017. Image Credit: Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Artist’s concept of Cassini’s final orbits between the Saturn’s innermost rings and the planet’s cloud tops. This set of orbits will consist the last leg of Cassini’s mission, called “The Grand Finale,” which will culminate with a plunge on Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017. Image Credit: Image Credit: NASA/JPL

It has become something of […]

Pluto Once Had Rivers and Lakes of Liquid Nitrogen, New Horizons Data Suggests

Artist's conception of Pluto's surface, with the distant Sun and largest moon Charon in the sky. The surface is frozen now, but evidence suggests that rivers and lakes of liquid nitrogen once flowed here. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Alex Parker

Artist’s conception of Pluto’s surface, with the distant Sun and largest moon Charon in the sky. The surface is frozen now, but evidence suggests that rivers and lakes of liquid nitrogen once flowed here. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Alex Parker

As has been discussed extensively now on AmericaSpace, New […]

New Horizons Discovers Methane 'Snow' on Pluto's Mountain Peaks

Methane "snow" on mountain peaks in the Cthulhu region of Pluto. The image covers an area 280 miles (450 kilometers) long by 140 miles (225 kilometers) wide. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Methane “snow” on mountain peaks in the Cthulhu region of Pluto. The enhanced color version of the inset image is on the left and the false color version is on the right. The image covers an area 280 miles (450 kilometers) long by 140 miles (225 kilometers) wide. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

As the data […]

New Horizons Finds Evidence for Frozen Ocean Inside Pluto's Moon Charon

The canyons of Charon. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The canyons of Charon, some of which dwarf the Grand Canyon on Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

One of the most surprising discoveries in recent years in the outer Solar System is that there are small moons which have oceans inside them. Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus are now known to have global […]

The 'Floating Hills' of Pluto: Icebergs In a Frozen Nitrogen Sea

Icebergs on Pluto: the large blocks of water ice float in a "sea" of nitrogen ice and are thought to have broken off from the rugged and mountainous highlands. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Icebergs on Pluto: The large blocks of water ice float in a “sea” of nitrogen ice and are thought to have broken off from the rugged and mountainous highlands. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto is a tiny world and incredibly distant from the Sun, so it was a pleasant surprise for scientists last summer when […]

NASA's FYI 2017 Budget Request May Delay SLS Europa Mission Several Years

We are finally going back to Europa, but it may be a little later than planned. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

We are finally going back to Europa, but it may be a little later than originally planned. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

The recently announced new mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, a highly anticipated return to this ocean world, may face a launch delay from 2022 to the late 2020s. The news comes amid the release […]

2015 in Review: A Year of Spectacular Planetary Missions and Discoveries

High-resolution view of Pluto from New Horizons, showing rugged mountains and vast icy plains. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

High-resolution view of Pluto from New Horizons, showing rugged mountains and vast icy plains. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

To say that 2015 has been a great year for planetary exploration would be an understatement, with fantastic new discoveries from around the Solar System. From our first ever close-up look at Pluto and its moons, to […]

New 2016 NASA Budget Fully Funds Europa Mission, Including Lander

A view many have been waiting for - artist's concept of the surface of Europa. The new NASA budget brings this closer to reality, with funding for not only a flyby probe, but also a lander. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A view many have been waiting for – artist’s concept of the surface of Europa. The new NASA budget brings this closer to reality, with funding for not only a flyby probe, but also a lander. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This was an exciting and very important week for NASA and planetary exploration: the new […]