In the early days of spaceflight, just getting a satellite into Earth’s orbit was an accomplishment. In our era, landing rovers on other planets and bringing samples home from asteroids is the cutting edge. But the next frontier is rapidly approaching, when astronauts will stay for long periods of time on the Moon and hopefully Mars.
But before we can send people to those dangerous environments, the Artemis partner space agencies have to know how to keep them safe. An important part of that is simulating the conditions on the Moon and Mars.
Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanic world in the Solar System, with over 400 volcanoes. Some of them eject plumes as high as 500 km (300 mi) above the surface. Its surface is almost entirely shaped by all this volcanic activity, with large regions covered by silicates, sulphur, and sulphur dioxide brought up from the moon’s interior. The intense volcanic activity has created over 100 mountains, and some of them are taller than Mt. Everest.
Io is unique in the Solar System, and the Juno orbiter’s JunoCam captured some new images of Io’s abundant volcanic activity.
Jupiter is the King, Earth is teeming with life, Venus is a weird, spacecraft-crushing hellhole, and now Saturn has the most moons. Again.
Jupiter sat atop the podium as the planet with the most moons for a while. But with the discovery of 62 more moons, Saturn has surpassed Jupiter as the planet with the most natural satellites and reclaimed the top spot.
We’ve seen our share of photos of Mars from orbit and the surface, but what about its moons? The United Arab Emirates Hope orbital mission to Mars sent home new beautiful high-resolution images of the Red Planet’s moon Deimos when it flew within 100 km of the moon last month. This is the closest any spacecraft has been to Deimos in almost 50 years.
In the photos, the science team says that their images of Deimos help provide evidence that the moon wasn’t a captured asteroid but came from Mars itself during an impact in the ancient past, much like Earth’s Moon.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) recently launched Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission and NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission could allow scientists to image landslides on the icy moons of Europa and Ganymede due to potential moonquakes on these small worlds. This comes after a recent study examined fault scarps on Europa and Ganymede orbiting Jupiter and Enceladus and Dione orbiting Saturn with the goal of drawing a connection between tectonic activity (quakes) and observed mass wasting (landslides) on these surfaces. The researchers “consider whether such smooth material can be generated by mass wasting triggered from local seismic shaking”, according to the study.
The moons of our Solar System have garnered quite a lot of attention in the last few years, especially pertaining to astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth. From the Galilean moons of Jupiterto the geysers of Enceladus to the methane lakes on Titan, these small worlds continue to humble us with both their awe and mystery. But do the very same scientists who study these mysterious and intriguing worlds have their own favorite moons? As it turns out, seven such planetary geologists were kind enough to share their favorite Solar System moons with Universe Today!
Planet 9 continues to remain elusive. This potential super-Earth-sized object in the outer Solar System is only hypothetical, as something out there appears to be gravitationally influencing several Kuiper Belt Objects into unusual orbits. Whatever or wherever it may be, Planet 9 has yet to be found, despite several different hypotheses and numerous observational searches.
But what if Planet 9 has moons? Could they help us find it? A new paper speculates that any moons orbiting the theoretical planet could provide indirect clues to the location of Planet 9, while revealing some basic properties of this mysterious object.
Jupiter was solidly in the lead with Sheppard and team’s announcement of 12 new moons back in 2018, but then in 2019, Sheppard and colleagues found a whopping 20 new moons orbiting Saturn, bringing the ringed planet’s total number of moons to 82. But now this latest addition moves Jupiter back in the lead.
With Sheppard around, we may never know the final count.
ESA’s Mars Express has captured an unusual and rare occultation, all from its vantage point in orbit of Mars. The spacecraft’s orbit brought it to the right place where it could witness the moment Mars’ small moon Deimos passed in front of Jupiter and its four largest moons. Scientists say that celestial alignments like these enable a more precise determination of the Martian moons’ orbits.
How great are wheels, really? Wheels need axles. Suspension. Power of some kind. And roads, or at least swaths of relatively flat and stable terrain. Then you need to maintain all of it. Because of their cost many civilizations across human history, who knew all about wheels and axles, didn’t bother using them for transportation. Another way to look at it – much of human technology mimics nature. Of the simple machines, levers, inclined planes, wedges, and even screws are observed in nature. Why not the wheel?