Category Archives: News from the Solar System

Five Years of Curiosity on Mars

Nearly five years after its celebrated arrival at Mars, the Curiosity rover continues to reveal Mars as a once-habitable planet. Early in the planet’s history, generations of streams and lakes created the landforms that Curiosity explores today. The rover currently is climbing through the foothills of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain formed from sediment brought in by water and wind. This talk will cover the latest findings from the mission, the challenges of exploration with an aging robot, and what lies ahead.

Speakers:
James K. Erickson, Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager, JPL
Ashwin R. Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist, JPL

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Streamed live on 13 Jul 2017

Cassini’s First Dive Between Saturn and Its Rings

After the first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft called home to mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. See highlights from the scene at JPL on April 26-27, 2017, and some of the first raw images the spacecraft sent back from its closest-ever look at Saturn’s atmosphere. For more information about Cassini and its “Grand Finale,” visit https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

Dunes of Shangri-La on Saturn’s Moon Titan

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has radar vision that allows it to peer through the haze that surrounds Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. This video focuses on Shangri-la, a large, dark area on Titan filled with dunes. The long, linear dunes are thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan’s atmosphere. Cassini has shown that dunes of this sort encircle most of Titan’s equator. Scientists can use the dunes to learn about winds, the sands they’re composed of, and highs and lows in the landscape.

The radar image was obtained by the Cassini Synthetic Aperture radar (SAR) on July 25, 2016, during the mission’s 122nd targeted Titan encounter.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini.

New Crew Launches to the International Space Station

Expedition 48-49 Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched on the Russian Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft July 7 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a two-day journey to the International Space Station and the start of a four-month mission.

Juno’s Status at Jupiter

On July 5, just hours after NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at the planet Jupiter, NASA held a press briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California to provide a status update on the spacecraft. Juno’s arrival at our solar system’s most massive planet was the culmination of a nearly five-year journey through space. The spacecraft will be the first to orbit the poles of Jupiter –on a mission to provide new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet’s core, composition and magnetic fields, as well as clues about the origins of our solar system.

Hello Jupiter! The Juno Mission

On July 4th, NASA Television aired live coverage of the solar-powered Juno spacecraft’s arrival at Jupiter after an almost five-year journey. Juno is the first spacecraft to orbit the poles of our solar system’s most massive planet. It will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet’s core, composition and magnetic fields.

The most mysterious star in the universe : TED Talk by Tabetha Boyajian

What’s Up on the Space Station?

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Jeff Williams of NASA and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) discussed life and research on the orbital outpost during a pair of in-flight interviews March 22 with online technology media outlets Gizmodo and The Verge. Williams arrived on the station on March 19 for a six-month mission, his record-breaking third long duration flight on the complex. Kopra and Peake are more than halfway through their six-month stay on the station.

Expedition 47 48 Crew Docks to the Space Station

After launching earlier in their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 47-48 Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and Jeff Williams of NASA arrived at the International Space Station on Mar. 19. The new crewmembers will join station Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos and Tim Peake of the European Space Agency, already onboard the station.

What’s Up for February 2016

Day On Earth

It seems very simple but actually there is more to this.

What’s Up for January 2016

What’s Up for January? A meteor shower, a binocular comet, and the winter circle of stars!

How the Moon was Formed

Most scientists believe the Moon’s formation resulted from a giant impact between the Earth and a mysterious object called Theia.

What’s Up for December 2015

View Mars this month, and get a preview of great Mars views in 2016—the best since 2005! For more about NASA’s exploration of the Red Planet, visit http://mars.nasa.gov.

The Birth of Planets

Thousands of planets are now known outside our solar system, from rocky worlds to “hot Jupiters” to planets orbiting not one, but two stars. So where did all this diversity come from? In this lecture by Dr. Neil Turner of NASA JPL we find out about how planets form, complete with data from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, as well as ground-based scopes. See new images and 3-D computer models astronomers are using to try to learn how planets are born into such diversity.

Close Encounter with Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft is about to make a daring plunge through one of the plumes emerging from Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Unveiling Ceres

Prior to the Dawn spacecraft’s arrival in early 2015, dwarf planet Ceres was the largest unexplored world in the inner solar system. Highlights from the mission’s first science orbits will be presented.
Speaker:
Dr. Carol Raymond, Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator, JPL

What’s Up for October 2015

To celebrate the 100th episode of What’s Up, here are the top ten favorite celestial targets you can view this month from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Flying Over Charon

Images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft were used to create this flyover video of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. The “flight” starts with the informally named Mordor (dark) region near Charon’s north pole. The camera then moves south to a vast chasm, descending from 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) to just 40 miles (60 kilometers) above the surface to fly through the canyon system. From there it’s a turn to the south to view the plains and “moat mountain,” informally named Kubrick Mons, a prominent peak surrounded by a topographic depression.

New Horizons Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) photographs showing details at up to 400 meters per pixel were used to create the basemap for this animation. Those images, along with pictures taken from a slightly different vantage point by the spacecraft’s Ralph/ Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), were used to create a preliminary digital terrain (elevation) model. The images and model were combined and super-sampled to create this animation.

Water Flowing on Present-Day Mars

During a news conference at NASA headquarters, agency scientists and officials discussed new findings from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water.

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse on Sunday the 27th of September 2015

On September 27th, 2015 there will be a very rare event in the night sky – a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. Watch this animated feature from NASA to learn more.

Curiosity Rover Report (August 2015): Three Years on Mars!

After three action-packed years on Mars, the Curiosity rover is ready to take on higher slopes of Mount Sharp.

Saturn’s Rings: An Accessible Astrophysical Disk – Matthew Tiscareno (SETI Talks)

Saturn’s ring system is an astrophysical disk that is neither light-years away nor billions of years in the past. We can visit this disk at close range and observe a number of phenomena that also operate in disks of other kinds. As a result, we see small-scale processes that shape ring texture, connect those processes to the bodies and structures that cause them, and watch closely as the disk changes with time.

We will discuss recent Cassini observations that elucidate disk processes including 1) “self-gravity wakes” and “spiral density waves,” both of which were originally proposed for galaxies but are observed with exquisite precision in Saturn’s rings, 2) “propeller” features caused by 100-meter to km-sized moonlets embedded in the disk; these are the first objects ever to have their orbits tracked while embedded in a disk, rather than orbiting in free space, and hold the potential of deepening our understanding of planetary migration, and 3) irregular edge shapes in the gaps opened up by larger moons (10 km and more), which may hold clues to angular momentum transport.

Dark side of the moon passing over Earth: Captured by NASA’s EPIC camera

This week’s best images of Pluto and its moons Hydra and Nix

NASA released another round of amazing Pluto images this week taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. We now have closeups of Pluto’s smaller moons Nix and Hydra, as well as the best high-resolution images of Pluto we’re going to get from this mission. We also know more about the dwarf planet’s icy heart, as well as a second mountain range on the edge of one of its dark equatorial regions.

Seeing Pluto in a New Light – News Conference 

NASA officials and team members of the New Horizons mission to Pluto participate in a news conference featuring release of close-up images of Pluto’s surface and moons, and initial reactions from the New Horizons science team.

The Pluto Files – Documentary with Neil Degrasse Tyson

Pluto and Beyond – The Story of Pluto – Documentary

Asteroids and Meteors – Documentary

Europa Mission News from NASA JPL

NASA announced on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, the selection of science instruments for a mission to Europa, to investigate whether Jupiter’s icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life. NASA received 33 proposals for science instruments to fly onboard a Europa mission, which would conduct repeated close flybys of the small moon during a three-year period.
Participants in the announcement were:
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters
Curt Niebur, Europa program scientist, NASA Headquarters