National Geographic
Menu

Tag archives for moons

Waves Discovered on Saturn’s Moon Titan?

Surf’s up on one of Saturn’s moons, report astronomers.

Hubble Telescope Finds New Moon for Neptune

The Hubble Space Telescope‘s keen eye has revealed a previously undetected moon orbiting Neptune.  The July 1, 2013 discovery , 24 years after Voyager 2 swung by the icy-blue giant, expands the known retinue of circling moons to 14. Known only by its temporary designation —S/20044 N1—the tiny celestial piece of real estate measures no more…

Help Astronomers Name Pluto’s Moons

P4 and P5? Surely you can come up with better names for Pluto’s newly-discovered moons. Astronomers at the SETI Institute are asking for your help.

A Grand Tour of the Universe

Armchair astronomers take note: This space atlas is for you. Yes, that kind of atlas—a series of maps and charts that evokes the ability to navigate a place, usually by ship or some sort of vehicle. The maps are remarkably detailed—Mercury’s surface incorporates the latest data from the orbiting Messenger spacecraft and the crater names might surprise you (Mark Twain, Botticelli, Dali, Shakespeare). On Venus nearly every feature is named after goddesses or famous women.

Pluto: a Dwarf Planet With Rings?

  NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently speeding through the outer solar system toward its July 2015 date with Pluto, when it will take a good close look at the dwarf planet’s mysterious surface, atmosphere, moons, and… rings? Less than three-quarters the size of our moon, Pluto nevertheless has no shortage of fascinating features. It…

Kleopatra’s Twins Reveal Asteroid’s True Nature

Before succumbing to her legendary death-by-snake in 30 B.C., Cleopatra VII, last queen of Egypt, gave birth to twins. Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II were born in 40 B.C., two of the eight children sired by Roman general Mark Antony during his lifetime. As it happens, the asteroid 216 Kleopatra also had twins: Two…

Europe Asks If It Can Probe Uranus

This past September the giant planet Jupiter made its closest approach to Earth since 1951, briefly becoming the brightest object in the night sky, aside from the moon. And not too far from that brilliant dot, sky-watchers with even modest binoculars could easily spot one of Jupiter’s distant relatives: the icy gas planet Uranus. Uranus’…

Did a Comet Make Jupiter’s Rings Wave?

When you’re talking about a gas giant planet with rings, it’s often Saturn in the limelight. After all, you can see that planet’s bright disk of icy particles from Earth with just a modest telescope. But in 1979 the Voyager 1 spacecraft saw that Jupiter has rings too, albeit a much fainter system primarily made…

New Pictures of Auroras — on Saturn!

As if having the most impressive rings in the solar system isn’t enough, Saturn also boasts some of the shiniest “footwear”—just check out new shots of the planet’s southern auroras: —Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Leicester This quartet of candy-colored pictures comes from NASA’s Cassini orbiter, which carries a nifty tool that can collect…

Saturn’s Rings: 400 Years of Engagement

Today scientists with the Cassini mission to Saturn released yet another glorious picture of the gassy planet’s icy rings—in this case, a shot of the shepherd moon Prometheus carving arcs in the thin, outer F ring. —Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since June 2004, and it’s sent back…

Saturn Moons Have Class

Late last week scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena announced the discovery of a new class of moons orbiting Saturn: the giant propeller moons. Tracked over a four-year period by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft, the moons create distinctive propeller shapes as they travel through the planet’s A ring, the outermost of the large,…

This Earth Hour, Don’t Forget to Look Up

In 2 days, 23 hours, and 33 minutes [5:12] hundreds of cities around the world will switch off the lights at precisely 8:30 p.m. local time in honor of Earth Hour. This WWF campaign started in 2007 in Sydney as a kind of public statement on climate change: “By voting with their light switches, Earth…

In Space, There’s Water, Water Everywhere

Today on Earth, people across the globe will be reflecting on water for World Water Day. —NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli We are a water world—just about any gradeschooler can tell you that water covers roughly 70 percent of Earth’s surface. The trick is that just 2.5 percent of that water…

Comets “Melted” Jupiter’s Biggest Moon

If Earth’s moon is made of green cheese, Jupiter‘s biggest moon is made of refrozen ice cream. False-color view of Ganymede — mmmmm, planetary Drumstick! —Image courtesy NASA/JPL/DLR According to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the Jovian moon Ganymede used to be similar in structure to its neighbor Callisto. But then, about 3.8 billion…

Saturn’s Equinox Arrives

After a successful four-year mission studying the ringed planet, the Cassini probe was still orbiting Saturn in near perfect health in June 2008. So NASA dug deep and found the funding to keep Cassini gainfully employed. The extension, dubbed the Equinox Mission, is primarily focused on changes wrought on Saturn by the onset of equinox,…