Space Probes

Blogs about space probes: launch and operations.

Ancient volcanic deposits on the Moon (Image courtesy Milliken lab / Brown University)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes a research that provides evidence of the existence of large amounts of water in ancient volcanic deposits on the Moon. Ralph E. Milliken and Shuai Li of Brown University used data collected by the Chandrayaan-1 space probe’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper Spectrometer to locate the water, perhaps formed after the collision between a planet and the primordial Earth that led to the Moon’s formation.

Libya Montes (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, , CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published images of the area of the planet Mars known as Libya Montes taken by its Mars Express space probe. It’s a mountain range near the Martian equator and is one of the oldest in Mars, altered by volcanic processes and impacts but also by processes associated with the existence of rivers. In the pictures it’s possible to identify various channels and valleys, traces of the ancient water streams.

Maps of Pluto and Charon (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/LPI)

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the New Horizons space probe’s Pluto flyby, NASA has published a map of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon. The American Space Agency has also created two videos that partially reproduce that flight concentrating one on Pluto and one on Charon. They provide a truly unique perspective, giving the impression of being on board a spaceship flying by those celestial bodies.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

Yesterday NASA started publishing the first raw photos of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot taken by the Juno space probe during its July 10 flyby. All the scientific instruments were active but JunoCam is the one that has obtained the most spectacular results with the pictures of the iconic storm larger than the Earth. From now on, many fans started processing the images by contributing to the NASA database.

Jupiter seen by the Subaru telescope (Photo NAOJ/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two telescopes in Hawaii were used for new observations of the planet Jupiter and in particular of its famous Great Red Spot. They were conducted to support NASA Juno space probe’s mission, which on July 10 will fly over the giant jovian storm. The Gemini North telescope was used with special near-infrared filters to produce specific colors that can penetrate Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and clouds. The Subaru telescope’s COMICS instrument was used with mid-infrared filters.