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

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, […]

First High-Resolution Images Released of Ceres from Dawn's New Lowest Orbit

One of the first new images taken in Dawn’s lowest orbit around Ceres, showing the crater chain called Gerber Catena. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA has released the first images of the dwarf planet Ceres from the Dawn spacecraft’s new lowest orbit. This is the closest view that Dawn will have of Ceres and […]

Mystery Solved? Odd Bright Spots on Ceres Explained as Salt Deposits

False color view of Occator crater on Ceres, showing the unusual bright spots. The image was taken by the framing camera on NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from a distance of about 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

There now might be a definitive answer to a puzzle which has intrigued both scientists and […]

NASA's Dawn Spirals to Final Science Orbit, Poised to Return Up-Close Images

From NASA/JPL: “This view, made using images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, is a color-coded topographic map of Occator crater on Ceres. Blue is the lowest elevation, and brown is the highest. The crater, which is home to the brightest spots on Ceres, is approximately 56 miles (90 kilometers wide).” Occator is home […]

New NASA Planetary Science Proposals Include Venus and 'Metallic Asteroid' Missions

Artist’s conception of the VERITAS spacecraft in orbit around Venus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looking ahead to future planetary missions, NASA has selected five new science investigations for refinement over the next year. Later, one or two of those missions will be chosen to actually be launched, perhaps as early as 2020. The selections […]

A Deeper Understanding: Dawn Reaches Third Science Orbit, Shows Closest View of Ceres Yet

From NASA/JPL: “The Lonely Mountain: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked […]

Dawn En Route to Third Science Orbit, New Maps Reveal Astonishing Peaks and Depths

Dawn is using its ion propulsion system to lower its orbit to within 1,000 miles of the dwarf planet Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.” — Rene Daumal

While astronaut Scott Kelly’s “Year in Space” mission helps researchers understand the effects of […]

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, […]

New Color Images Show 'Two Faces' of Pluto and Odd Dark Spots Along Equator

New color images of Pluto sent back by New Horizons showing two different “faces” or hemispheres of the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

First there were the unusual bright spots on Ceres, which are still awaiting an explanation, and now as […]

Highest-Resolution Views Yet Reveal Ceres' Mysterious Bright Spots, Seemingly Comprised of Multiple ‘Icy Spots’

This image of Ceres was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 4, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers), in its RC3 mapping orbit. The brightest spots within a crater in the northern hemisphere are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots. The image resolution is 0.8 mile (1.3 […]