Europa, the moon of Jupiter made famous by the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, appears to have plumes of water at its south pole. This will make it easier to figure out what's in the ocean underneath all that ice. [more inside]
"Unlike the names of almost every celestial body in the solar system, the names of the moons of Mars are words. They’re names, but they’re words as well.", Fortunato Salazar
Wired: The Most Badass Moons of our Solar System Mimas | Europa | Io | Enceladus | Hyperion | Iapetus | Charon | Triton | The Moon | Asteroid Moons | Titan | Phoebe
"Help Us Name the Moons of Pluto!" Pluto may have lost is designation as a full-fledged-planet in 2006 (after 'dwarf planet' Eris was discovered that is larger than it), but it still gets plenty of attention by astronomers. In the last two years, the Hubble Space Telescope discovered two more moons of Pluto, which have not yet been named. So Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute is doing an online survey. [more inside]
The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog is a database of the planets outside our solar system which are considered the most suitable for life according to certain steps and metrics. So far 16 have been identified as possible candidates. This Guardian article is a good introduction. You can also just dive into the catalogue, which ranks planets on two main scales, similarity to Earth and surface habitability (note that all images are computer renderings). The catalog is a project of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo (home to the world's largest radiotelescope).
This Summer’s Sexiest Images From Saturn. From a billion miles away, the Cassini spacecraft continues to send spectacular images of Saturn and its moons. Cassini has been flying since 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004 after flybys of Earth, Venus and Jupiter. Its mission was originally slated to end in 2008, but it got its first 27 month extension to witness Saturn’s equinox. This year, it was given another life extension until 2017 to keep exploring until Saturn’s northern hemisphere summer solstice. [previously] [more inside]
Two Moons Passing in the Night. Mars rover Spirit took these sequential photos of Martian moons Phobos and Deimos passing overhead in the night sky. Those rovers are still going strong!
Names of the Full Moons We are now 4 days past the Snow Moon, and this year it's easy to see (at least here in northern Virginia) why it was so named. It was also called the Hunger Moon... [more inside]
Swan song for a great explorer. Tomorow, the Galileo explorer will make a flyby of Jovian moon Amalthea ending pehaps the geatest unmanned mission in NASA history. Galileo telemetry may not survive the flyby having already receieved much more radiation than it was designed for. Even if it does survive, this will be its final orbit scheduled to crash into Jupiter in September of next year. In spite of antenna difficulties, the spacecraft returned many beautiful images of Jupiter's moons, along with coverage of the Shoemaker-Levy collision and the first atmospheric probe to decend into Jupiter's weather.
Interesting hypothesis that Europa's seas are swimming with bacteria. Preliminary results show that all three species, the ordinary gut bacteria Escherichia coli, and extremophiles Deinococcus radiodurans and Sulfolobus shibatae, are just as good at explaining Europa's IR spectrum as the [magnesium sulphate] salts.
Once in a blue moon. Not only will the full moon on Halloween be the first in 40(i think) and the last for another 19 years, it is also a 'blue moon' which means that the moon is full twice in the same month. Notwithstanding any MeFi visitors from Detroit, are you feeling strange yet?
NASA proposes visit to Saturn's moons via blimp. Native Titans debunk UFO as weather balloon. More space balloons here. (via robotwisdom)
Your-anus doesn't have the most moon anymore, Saturn does. 22. haha.
"clouds and even rain showers seem to have been spotted on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Scientists have already labeled Titan a hot spot in the search for extraterrestrial life, and the new work adds to that enthusiasm." You bet it does.