Moons

Blogs about any natural satellite.

Evidence of methane rains on Saturn's great moon Titan's north pole

An article published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” reports evidence of rainfall on Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons. A team of researchers led by Rajani Dhingra, a doctoral student in physics at the University of Idaho, examined images captured by the Cassini space probe, finding an anomaly at the north pole of Titan interpreted as a methane rain. This is an indication of the beginning of summer in this moon’s northern hemisphere.

Photo of the Moon's area where the Chang'e-4 mission landed (Photo courtesy China national space administration)

The China national space administration has confirmed that the lander and the rover of its Chang’e-4 mission have landed on the hidden face of the Moon today at 2.26 GMT. In the past various space probes took photos of the hidden face from the orbit, but these are the first vehicles that land there. The mission began on December 7 with the launch of the spacecraft that contains lander and the rover.

Saturn and Titan with the haze in the moon's atmosphere in the inset (Image NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Space Science Institute, Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes a possible way for the molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form at the very low temperatures existing on Titan, Saturn’s big moon. A team of researchers carried out experiments and simulations to understand how certain complex molecules could form in the haze layers in Titan’s atmosphere when in theory they required much higher temperatures. The result is the discovery that the presence of two gases can produce that type of molecules even at very low temperatures.

Artist's concept of the planet Kepler-1625b with its moon and its star in the background (Image NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI))

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” presents the evidence of the existence of a exomoon, a moon orbiting a planet of another solar system, named Kepler-1625b-I. David Kipping and Alex Teachey of Columbia University used observations of the Kepler and Hubble space telescopes to examine the traces left by the exoplanet Kepler-1625b in front of its star, similar to the Sun. The first indications of the discovery of the exomoon candidate were revealed in July 2017, follow-up observations carried out with the Hubble Space Telescope provided new confirmations.

Titan seen by Cassini (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University Paris Diderot/IPGP)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” reports the evidence of the presence of dust storms in the equatorial regions of Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons. A team of researchers analyzed data collected by the Cassini space probe to find those evidence that make Titan the third object in the solar system where dust storms were discovered after the Earth and Mars. This is a further similarity between Titan and the Earth.