Ancient Water World: Tectonics on Pluto's Moon Charon Point to Frozen Subsurface Ocean

Charon (upper left) and Pluto as seen by New Horizons on July 14, 2015. Photo Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Charon is Pluto’s largest moon and, despite being so cold and remote from the Sun, has been revealed to be a fascinating and active world, just like Pluto itself. Residing in the far outskirts of the Solar […]

Solar Probe Plus Mission Moves Closer to 'Touching the Sun' in 2024

Artist’s conception of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft near the Sun. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

The Solar System is a busy place, with spacecraft currently visiting most of the planets as well as some dwarf planets and comets. Akatsuki is at Venus, several rovers and orbiters are at Mars, the Juno spacecraft just reached Jupiter, […]

Pluto Explored! Postal Service to Release Stamps Honoring New Horizons Mission in 2016

It is official, with Pluto now explored, the United States Postal Service will be releasing two stamps in 2016 honoring the historic mission and the first ever close-up exploration of Pluto, previously identified as “not yet explored” by the USPS. Image Credit: USPS / Antonio Alcalá, with thanks to Raj Pillai / “Society of […]

Here It Comes! Massive Downlink of Pluto Data Starts With Spectacular New Images

Perspective view of Pluto, composed of the latest high-resolution images. The entire expanse of terrain seen in the image is 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) across. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

After a lull of several weeks, the downlinking of new data from the New Horizons spacecraft has begun, including […]

Haze Detected Above Mystery Bright Spots on Ceres

The brightest of the bright spots on Ceres, in Occator crater. Haze detected above them may help scientists determine if they are made of ice, salts or something else. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The intriguing bright spots on dwarf planet/asteroid Ceres have been fascinating the public and scientists alike for the past few months, and […]

In Just a Few Hours, New Horizons Will Fulfill Its Destiny With First Up-Close Exploration of Pluto

A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into […]

Two Days Prior to Closest Approach New Horizons Images Pluto's Charon-Facing Hemisphere for the Last Time

Pluto’s Charon-facing hemisphere, as seen by the New Horizons spacecraft for the last time on july 11, from a distance of 4 million km away. The image clearly shows newly-resolved linear features above the equatorial region that intersect, suggestive of polygonal shapes. Image Credit/Caption: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

With just two days remaining before New Horizons zips […]

The Science of Pluto: Great Expectations (Part 3)

An artist’s rendering of Pluto’s surface, with Charon looming large on the horizon. The double-planet Pluto-Charon system, represent the last unexplored frontier of the Solar System, which will be unveiled in all its glory in just a few days from now. Image Credit: National Space Society

“We are living through a remarkably privileged era, […]

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 […]