Hubble Discovers Water Plumes Erupting from Europa

by Jason Major December 12, 2013

It’s been known since 2005 that Saturn’s 300-mile-wide moon Enceladus has geysers spewing ice and dust out into orbit from deep troughs that rake across its south pole. Now, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope (after 23 years still going strong) we know of another moon with similar jets: Europa, the ever-enigmatic ice-shelled moon of […]

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Hydrogen Peroxide Could Feed Life on Europa

by Jason Major April 5, 2013

According to research by NASA astronomers using the next-generation optics of the 10-meter Keck II telescope, Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa has hydrogen peroxide across much of the surface of its leading hemisphere, a compound that could potentially provide energy for life if it has found its way into the moon’s subsurface ocean. “Europa has the […]

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Enceladus’ Jets Reach All the Way to its Sea

by Jason Major March 19, 2013

Thanks to the Cassini mission we’ve known about the jets of icy brine spraying from the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus for about 8 years now, but this week it was revealed at the 44th¬†Lunar and Planetary Science Conference outside Houston, Texas that Enceladus’ jets very likely reach all the way down to the […]

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An Enormous Arctic Spiral

by Jason Major February 14, 2013

Looking south across the southern tip of Greenland, this satellite image shows an enormous cloud vortex spiraling over the northern Atlantic ocean on January 26, 2013. An example of the powerful convection currents in the upper latitudes, these polar low cyclones are created¬†when the motion of cold air is energized by the warmer ocean water […]

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Titan’s Gravity Indicates a Thicker, Uneven Icy Crust

by Jason Major December 6, 2012

Color composite of Titan and Dione made from Cassini images acquired in May 2011. (NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major) It’s long been speculated that Saturn’s moon Titan may be harboring a global subsurface ocean below an icy crust, based on measurements of its rotation and orbit by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Titan exhibits a density and shape that indicates […]

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