Moons

Blogs about any natural satellite.

2007 OR10 and its moon (Image NASA, ESA, C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory), and J. Stansberry (STScI))

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes the discovery of a moon of the 2007 OR10 transnettunian object. It’s most likely a dwarf planet which is still little known because right now it’s distant from the Sun about 87 times the Earth. A team of astronomers led by Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest analyzed images of the Hubble Space Telescope’s archive finding two images of 2007 OR10’s moon.

Plumes on Europa (Image NASA, ESA, W. Sparks (STScI), and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center)

Yesterday, NASA held a press conference to explain the latest news about the studies of alien oceans. The attention was focused on the two most popular underground oceans, the one in Jupiter’s satellite Europa and the one in Saturn’s satellite Enceladus. There are confirmations of plumes from Europa, also described in an article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters”. The presence of molecular hydrogen in the Enceladus ocean was announced, also described in an article published in the journal “Science”.

Enceladus with some tiger stripes in blue (Image NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes the discovery that the south pole of Enceladus, one of the planet Saturn’s moons, is warmer than expected under the icy surface. A team of researchers led by Alice Le Gall of LATMOS and UVSQ studied detections carried out by the Cassini space probe during a flyby in 2011 concluding that the underground ocean on Enceladus is closer to the surface than previously thought.

The Dragon V2 spacecraft presented by Elon Musk (Photo courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, has announced that his company was hired to send two people on a private journey around the Moon in 2018. Musk didn’t reveal the two persons’ identity nor indicated the journey’s cost but merely stated that they have already paid a substantial deposit. The journey will be made on the Dragon V2 spacecraft, the version developed precisely for manned missions, which will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket.

Simulation of a planet collision and the birth of a moon (Image courtesy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a research about the possible formation of large moons following the collision of two planets. Megan Bruk Syal and Amy Barr of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted a series of simulations to understand what factors influence the birth of big moons. This study offers new hope in the search for exomoons orbiting exoplanets studied with NASA’s Kepler space telescope.