One Day to Pluto: Looking Back at Humanity's First-Time Successful Encounters With the Sun's Planets

Tomorrow’s historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and its binary companion, Charon, will mark the completion of humanity’s first-time exploration of each of the Solar System’s nine traditional planets. Photo Credit: NASA

Tomorrow, the United States will become the first nation to have conducted a close-range reconnaissance of all nine “traditional” planets in […]

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 […]

Shedding New Light On the Solar System: Celebrating 25 Years of Hubble Science (Part 2)

A series of images of Uranus and Neptune that were taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The top row reveals the ice giant planets in natural colors, showing the planets as they would appear if we could see them through a telescope. The images at the bottom were taken with certain types of different […]

Massive Alien Ring System Is Much Larger Than Saturn's—And May Contain Exomoons

Artist’s conception of the ring system circling the young giant planet (or brown dwarf) J1407b. Image Credit: Ron Miller

Astronomers today announced yet another mind-boggling finding: a ring system which orbits a distant giant planet has been found to be much larger and more massive than Saturn’s ring system, the best known example in our own […]

Two New Exoplanet Findings Bring Us Closer to Discovering Other Earth-Like Worlds

Artist’s conception of a super-Earth ocean world, with another gas giant planet rising over the horizon. Image Credit: David A. Aguilar/CfA

When it comes to exoplanets, the most exciting for many people are, of course, the ones which may be the most Earth-like, since these are regarded as the most likely to possibly support some form […]

Tilted Aquaplanets Might Still be Habitable, Study Suggests

Artist’s conception of an ocean-covered aquaplanet. Image Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

With so many exoplanets now being discovered on a regular basis by astronomers, the focus has turned to what number of them might be habitable for some kind of life. For life as we know it at least, that depends on a number of […]

Surprisingly Bright Cloud Systems and Extreme Storms on Uranus Puzzle Astronomers

Infrared images of Uranus at wavelengths of 1.6 (left) and 2.2 microns (right), that were obtained on Aug. 6, with the Adaptive Optics system on the 10-meter Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The white spot is an extremely large storm that was brighter than any feature ever recorded on the planet […]

Hot 'Super-Earths' Provide Clues to Water in Exoplanet Atmospheres

Artist’s conception of super-Earth 55 Cancri e, one of the few exoplanets so far which astronomers are able to study the atmosphere of. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Some of the most interesting exoplanets discovered so far are the “super-Earths,” rocky worlds which are significantly larger and more massive than Earth but still smaller than the […]

New Uranus-Like 'Ice Giant' Exoplanet Discovered

Artist’s conception of an ice giant type exoplanet. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)

Many different kinds of exoplanets have been found by astronomers, from giant “hot Jupiters” and “super Earths” to smaller rocky worlds like Earth or Mars. Now, another type has been discovered, an “ice giant” similar to Uranus or Neptune in our […]

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, […]