Moons

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 last pictures of Saturn's rings taken by the Cassini space probe (Image NASA/JPL)

NASA has confirmed that it has lost contact with the Cassini space probe, which until the last moment was sending information as it descended into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn and went to its destruction. It’s the end of the Cassini-Huygens mission, a collaboration between NASA, ESA and ASI (Italian Space Agency), one of the most extraordinary space missions in history.

Close-up of the rust on the surface of Rusty Rock (Photo NASA)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes a research on the presence of water on the Moon. A team led by the geochemist James M. D. Day of the University of California at San Diego examined amounts and compositions of zinc, chlorine and lead isotopes in a lunar rock concluding that water and other volatile compounds evaporated very early in the Moon’s history. This contradicts a research published only a few weeks ago in which it’s argued that ancient Moon volcanic deposits contain large amounts of water.

Titan and a vinyl cyanide molecule (Image B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA)

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” describes the detection of vinyl cyanide molecules on Titan, one of the planet Saturn’s moons. Using archive data of observation carried out with the ALMA radio telescope between February and March 2014, a team of researchers found evidence of the presence of those molecules in significant amounts. The importance of the discovery is due to the fact that it’s a substance considered to be among the best candidate for the formation of membranes and vesicles similar to those of Earth organisms’ cells.

Artist's concept of a gas giant planet with a habitable exomoon (Image courtesy Andy McLatchie)

An article sent to arXiv, the famous archive of preprint, describes the discovery of an exomoon candidate. A team of researchers led by David Kipping of Columbia University conducted a search for moons orbiting exoplanets observed by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope finding the candidate called Kepler-1625b I. Generally, research results are published on a scientific journal at the end of the work but rumors spread convincing the researchers to send an article at least to arXiv.