Solar System

Solar System News -- ScienceDaily Solar System Planets. Astronomy articles on the eight planets, plus the two dwarf planets, Pluto and Eris. Great pictures of everything in the solar system. Updated daily.

  • NASA's MAVEN mission finds Mars has a twisted magnetic tail
    on October 19, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Mars has an invisible magnetic 'tail' that is twisted by interaction with the solar wind, according to new research using data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft. […]

  • Noxious ice cloud on Saturn's moon Titan
    on October 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Researchers with NASA's Cassini mission found evidence of a toxic hybrid ice in a wispy cloud high above the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. […]

  • Scientists dig into the origin of organics on dwarf planet Ceres
    on October 18, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, scientists have been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin. After considering the viability of comet or asteroid delivery, the preponderance of evidence suggests the organics are most likely native to Ceres. […]

  • Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons
    on October 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos. […]

  • A mission to Mars could make its own oxygen thanks to plasma technology
    on October 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found. It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition. […]

  • Potential human habitat located on the moon
    on October 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    A new study confirms the existence of a large open lava tube in the Marius Hills region of the moon, which could be used to protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface. […]

  • To keep Saturn's A ring contained, its moons stand united
    on October 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    For three decades, astronomers thought that only Saturn's moon Janus confined the planet's A ring -- the largest and farthest of the visible rings. But after poring over NASA's Cassini mission data, astronomers now conclude that the teamwork of seven moons keeps this ring corralled. […]

  • Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars
    on October 17, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Research by planetary scientists finds that periodic melting of ice sheets on a cold early Mars would have created enough water to carve the ancient valleys and lakebeds seen on the planet today. […]

  • Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks
    on October 17, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism. […]

  • Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration
    on October 13, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet. […]

  • New insight into the limits of possible life on Mars
    on October 13, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Researchers investigating whether liquid water could exist on Mars have provided new insight into the limits of life on the red planet. […]

  • Intense storms batter Saturn’s largest moon, scientists report
    on October 12, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Titan, the largest of Saturn's more than 60 moons, has surprisingly intense rainstorms, according to research by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists. Although the storms are relatively rare -- they occur less than once per Titan year, which is 29 and a half Earth years -- they occur much more frequently than the scientists expected. […]

  • Devourer of planets? Astronomers dub star 'Kronos'
    on October 12, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    'Kronos' is enhanced in metals and other rock-forming elements but not in volatiles, prompting a team of researchers to conclude that it absorbed as much as 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets. Its twin, 'Krios,' does not show this unusual pattern of enhancement. […]

  • Reconstructing Cassini's plunge into Saturn
    on October 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its fateful dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn on Sept. 15, the spacecraft was live-streaming data from eight of its science instruments, along with readings from a variety of engineering systems. While analysis of science data from the final plunge will take some time, Cassini engineers already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft itself behaved as it went in. […]

  • Haumea, the most peculiar of Pluto companions, has a ring around it
    on October 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    The trans-neptunian belt contains four dwarf planets, among which Haumea stands out for its extremely elongated shape and rapid rotation. A stellar occultation makes it possible to establish the main physical characteristics of this previously little known body -- among which most surprising was the presence of a ring. […]

  • Giant exoplanet hunters: Look for debris disks
    on October 11, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    There's no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy -- they're so distant and faint compared to their stars, it's hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets. […]

  • Remote sensing for cosmic dust and other celestial bodies
    on October 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Astronomers review the state-of-the-art in polarimetry studies of the small bodies in our solar system. Combined with different observational techniques, polarimetry may be used as a remote sensing technique to measure asteroids' size, to reveal the composition and size variation of dust in comets or of aerosols in planetary atmospheres, or even to detect extra-terrestrial biomarkers. […]

  • Ancient asteroid impact exposes the moon's interior
    on October 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    A large basin on the moon has revealed that its interior is made of a different mineral than Earth's interior, contradicting the theory that the interior of the planets look mostly the same. […]

  • Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life
    on October 6, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth. The research offers evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago. […]

  • Mars' moon Phobos examined in a different light
    on October 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    NASA's longest-lived mission to Mars has gained its first look at the Martian moon Phobos, pursuing a deeper understanding by examining it in infrared wavelengths. […]

  • The super-Earth that came home for dinner
    on October 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side. It is a possible "Planet Nine" -- a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune. […]

  • Meteorite tells us that Mars had a dense atmosphere 4 billion years ago
    on October 2, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Exploration missions have suggested that Mars once had a warm climate, which sustained oceans on its surface. To keep Mars warm requires a dense atmosphere with a sufficient greenhouse effect, while the present-day Mars has a thin atmosphere whose surface pressure is only 0.006 bar, resulting in the cold climate it has today. It has been a big mystery as to when and how Mars lost its dense atmosphere. […]

  • Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere
    on September 29, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers. […]

  • Solving the mystery of Pluto's giant blades of ice
    on September 28, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    NASA's New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant knife blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery. Now, scientists have turned up a fascinating explanation for this "bladed terrain": the structures are made almost entirely of methane ice, and likely formed as a specific kind of erosion wore away their surfaces. […]

  • Farthest active inbound comet yet seen
    on September 28, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the farthest active inbound comet ever seen, at a whopping distance of 1.5 billion miles from the Sun (beyond Saturn's orbit). Slightly warmed by the remote Sun, it has already begun to develop an 80,000-mile-wide fuzzy cloud of dust, called a coma, enveloping a tiny, solid nucleus of frozen gas and dust. These observations represent the earliest signs of activity ever seen from a comet entering the solar system's planetary zone for the first time. […]

  • A fresh look at older data yields a surprise near the Martian equator
    on September 28, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Scientists taking a new look at older data from NASA's longest-operating Mars orbiter have discovered evidence of significant hydration near the Martian equator -- a mysterious signature in a region of the Red Planet where planetary scientists figure ice shouldn't exist. […]

  • New light shed on how Earth and Mars were created
    on September 27, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Analysing a mixture of earth samples and meteorites, scientists have shed new light on the sequence of events that led to the creation of the planets Earth and Mars. […]

  • Total solar eclipse viewed from space
    on September 27, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    While people across the nation gazed at August's total solar eclipse from Earth, a bread loaf-sized NASA satellite had a front row seat for the astronomical event. […]

  • The strange structures of the Saturn nebula
    on September 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues. This colourful image was captured by the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The map -- which reveals a wealth of intricate structures in the dust, including shells, a halo and a curious wave-like feature -- will help astronomers understand how planetary nebulae develop their strange shapes and symmetries. […]

  • Lava tubes: Hidden sites for future human habitats on the Moon and Mars
    on September 25, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Lava tubes, underground caves created by volcanic activity, could provide protected habitats large enough to house streets on Mars or even towns on the Moon, according to new research. A further study shows how the next generation of lunar orbiters will be able to use radar to locate these structures under the Moon's surface.&nbs […]