Space Probes

Some details of Saturn rings (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

During the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Science meeting some of the latest discoveries were presented about the planet Saturn and its rings obtained from data collected by the Cassini space probe before disintegrating in the planet’s atmosphere on September 15. Some of the results were published in “The Astrophysical Journal”.

The Eridania basin (Image NASA)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the discovery of evidence of the existence of very ancient hydrothermal deposits on a seabed in the Eridania region on Mars. A team of researchers studied data collected by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) space probe to reconstruct the presence of massive deposits in a basin in the red planet’s southern hemisphere. It’s a type of environment favorable to the birth of life forms, similar to that in which scientists think life on Earth was born.

Reconstructed last image from Rosetta (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

ESA has released the last image taken by its Rosetta space probe before clashing on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the end of its mission along with the story of its reconstruction. The image was incomplete, so initially it wasn’t recognized as such by the automatic processing software among the packets containing telemetry data it was transmitted with.

Pluto's area with ice blades (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

An article published in the magazine “Icarus” describes a research that offers an explanation for the origin ice blades that are tens of meters high found on Pluto. According to a team of researchers led by Jeffrey Moore, one of NASA’s New Horizons mission scientists, those blades originated in the freezing and subsequent erosion of methane at the highest altitudes of the dwarf planet, with a process similar to what happens on the Earth, for example on the Andes, but with much larger sizes.

Traces of the ancient rivers of Aeolis Dorsa (Image courtesy Cardenas et al)

An article published in the journal “GSA Bulletin” describes a research on the region of the planet Mars called Aeolis Dorsa. Benjamin T. Cardenas and other colleagues from the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin used images captured by space probes to determine the presence of traces of rivers that existed about 3.5 billion years ago. That region contains some of the most spectacular and dense river deposits on Mars.