Solar System

MESSENGER Completes Second Burn to Maintain Mercury Orbit

by Jason Major September 22, 2014

A little over a week before NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft fired its rockets to successfully enter orbit around Mars, MESSENGER performed a little burn of its own – the second of four orbit correction maneuvers (OCMs) that will allow it to remain in orbit around Mercury until next March. Although it is closing in on the end […]

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Philae Snaps a Spacetastic Selfie

by Jason Major September 10, 2014

Spacecraft “selfies” are always a treat and this one is doubly awesome: taken by the Philae lander piggybacked onto ESA’s Rosetta, it shows one of the spacecraft’s 14-meter-long (46-foot) solar arrays glinting with reflected sunlight while off in the distance is the double-lobed nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! Rosetta has been circling the comet for over […]

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Watch Pluto and Charon Engage in Their Orbital Dance

by Jason Major August 7, 2014

Now here’s something I guarantee you’ve never seen before: a video of the dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon Charon showing the two distinctly separate worlds actually in motion around each other! Captured by the steadily-approaching New Horizons spacecraft from July 19–24, the 12 images that comprise this animation were acquired with the Long Range […]

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New Image Captures one of the Brightest Volcanoes Ever Seen in the Solar System

by Shannon Hall August 4, 2014

Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io — with over 400 active volcanoes, extensive lava flows and floodplains of liquid rock — is by far the most geologically active body in the Solar System. But last August, Io truly came alive with volcanism. Three massive volcanic eruptions led astronomers to speculate that these presumed rare outbursts were much […]

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If the Sun Were the Size of a Person, How Big Would an Asteroid Be?

by Jason Major August 4, 2014

I love anything that attempts to provide a sense of scale about the Solar System (see here and here for even more examples) and this one brings us down past the Sun, planets, and moons all the way to asteroid size — specifically asteroid 101955 Bennu, the target of the upcoming OSIRIS-REx mission. Created by […]

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