Back to the Ice Giants: Proposed New Mission Would Re-Visit Uranus or Neptune (or Both!)

Uranus (left) and Neptune (right). These two ice giants and their many moons are awaiting further exploration. Image Credit: NASA

Uranus (left) and Neptune (right). These two ice giants and their many moons are awaiting further exploration. Image Credit: NASA

The outer Solar System has been a busy place lately, with the ongoing Cassini mission at Saturn and New Horizons’ recent spectacular flyby of Pluto. Literally in-between those two worlds, however, it has been […]

The Early Solar System Could Have Hosted a Fifth Giant Planet, According to New Study

Artist’s impression of a rogue gas giant planet, free-floating in interstellar space. According to a new study, the early Solar System hosted a fifth gas giant planet besides Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, which was eventually ejected into interstellar space through the gravitational interactions with the rest of the Solar System’s giant planets. Image […]

New Study Suggests Abundance of Nitrogen on Pluto May Be Due to Cryovolcanism

A spectacular image of Pluto's atmosphere backlit by the Sun, taken during New Horizons' closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The bright halo of Pluto's atmosphere is caused by the scattering of sunlight from nitrogen, a compound that dominates the planet's atmosphere. A new study suggests that the source of all this nitrogen might be cryovolcanism on the distant planet. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

A spectacular image of Pluto’s atmosphere backlit by the Sun, taken during New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The bright halo of Pluto’s atmosphere is caused by the scattering of sunlight from nitrogen, a compound that dominates the planet’s atmosphere. A new study suggests that the source of all this nitrogen […]

The Science of Pluto: The Sails of Charon (Part 2)

An artist’s concept of Charon (at front), with Pluto seen in the background. Equally as fascinating and exciting as Pluto, Charon has sported its own set of intriguing mysteries and unanswered questions, some of which include the exciting possibility for the existence of geyser-like surface eruptions, underground layers of liquid water, and even the […]

The Science of Pluto: The Gates of the Planetary Underworld (Part 1)

A computer-generated impression of the view from the surface of Pluto. The Sun looks like a very bright star on the sky (upper right), while Charon, Pluto’s biggest satellite, looms large near the horizon (at left). The scientific study of the Pluto-Charon system, has been one of expanding horizons and increased awareness of our […]

Pluto Slowly Transitions From Astronomical Point Source to Fascinating World in Latest Images From New Horizons

Pluto is revealed as a fascinating planetary world in these latest images that were taken by New Horizons spacecraft between May 29-June 2. The images show four different “faces” of Pluto as it rotates about its axis with a period of 6.4 days. All the images have been rotated to align Pluto’s rotational axis […]

New 'Year of Pluto' Documentary Details Historic New Horizons Mission and Upcoming July Flyby

An artist’s illustration of New Horizons as it approaches the Pluto system for its close encounter at 35,000 mph on July 14, 2015. NASA has released a new documentary, Year of Pluto, as the anticipation builds toward the spacecraft’s historic encounter this summer. Image Credit: NASA

The anticipation is building among the space and […]

New Horizon's Best Images of Pluto Yet Reveal Terrain and Possible Polar Ice Cap

New Horizons LORRI Optical Navigation Campaign 3, showing a full orbit of the dwarf planet’s moon Charon around Pluto, as well as a full rotation of Pluto itself. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

NASA’s nuclear-powered New Horizons spacecraft has turned Pluto from an astronomy object with just a pinpoint […]

Living On the Edge: In the Realm of the Ice Giants (Part 5)

An artist’s concept of Neptune as seen from the surface of its largest moon Triton. Could this distant cold moon harbor an underground habitat for life in the outer reaches of the Solar System approximately 4.5 billion km from the Sun? Image Credit: Wikipedia

“Four happy days bring in Another moon; but O, […]

Living On the Edge: The Inviting Waters of Europa (Part 2)

Jupiter’s moon Europa, as seen by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. A long line of evidence has shown that Europa has an underground ocean of liquid water, which for many scientists constitutes the best place in the Solar System to search for alien life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk

“Since ’tis certain that Earth and Jupiter have […]