Planets

Blog about planets.

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.

Crater north of Hellas Planitia (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published some images of a crater with more than 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) across north of the large Hellas Planitia basin on the planet Mars obtained thanks to the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument of the Mars Express space probe. The appearance of the crater along with the river valleys to the south indicates that at the time of impact there was groundwater near the surface. This is another indication that there was a lake in that region.

Artist's impression of the exoplanet WASP-12b and its star (Image NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes a research on the exoplanet WASP-12b. A team of astronomers from the McGille University, Canada, and the University of Exeter, UK, used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), an instrument of the Hubble Space Telescope discovering that the planet reflects only a very little percentage of the light it receives from its star. In a word, this strange planet is darker than fresh asphalt: in technical terms, its albedo is 0.064.

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.

Jupiter's southern aurora (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on the auroras on the planet Jupiter and on the differences with those on Earth. A team of researchers led by Barry Mauk of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory investigated data collected in particular by two instruments aboard NASA’s Juno space probe finding traces of remarkable electrical potentials. They’re aligned with Jupiter’s magnetic field, which accelerates the electrons towards the atmosphere at energies even tenths times higher than those of the Earth’s auroras.