Moons

Pluto and Charon (Image NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI))

An article published in the journal “Icarus” describes a research on Charon, the biggest moon of the dwarf planet Pluto, and on one aspect of the relationship between the two of them. A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology made a series of computer simulations that indicate that the passage of Charon between Pluto and the Sun slows the dwarf planet’s atmosphere loss. The predictions are consistent with the data collected by NASA’s New Horizons space probe.

Mare Orientale seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (Photo NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Two articles published in the journal “Science” provide new information about the birth of Mare Orientale, a big impact basin on the Moon. Researchers used data collected by NASA’s GRAIL mission to reconstruct the formation of Mare Orientale, helping to better understand how impact craters with concentric circular structures form.

Dione (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

An article published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describes a research on Dione and Enceladus, two of the planet Saturn’s moons. Using data collected by the Cassini space probe, Mikael Beuthe, Attilio Rivoldini and Antony Trinh of the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels calculated in a new way the two moons’ icy crust thickness concluding that Dione has an underground ocean as well.

Europa with the possible water vapor plumes coming from its south pole (Image NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center)

In a press conference, NASA announced that a team of astronomers led by Dr. William Sparks who observed Europa with the Hubble Space Telescope captured images of what might be plumes of water vapor and erupt from the surface of this planet moon Jupiter. They would be a confirmation of the existing subsurface activity with an ocean of liquid water, one of the best candidates to host life forms. The results of this research will be published in the “Astrophysical Journal”.

Pluto seen at visible light and at X-rays (not in scale) (Image X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHUAPL/R.McNutt et al; Optical: NASA/JHUAPL)

Two new research are connected in different ways to emissions coming from the dwarf planet Pluto. An article published in the journal “Icarus” describes a research which, through the use of the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, detected X-rays emissions from Pluto. Another article published in the journal “Nature” offers an explanation for the reddish color to Charon’s poles, caused by methane ripped from Pluto’s atmosphere and turned into ice by the low temperatures.