Planets

Blog about planets.

The possible impact area on Mars (Image MOLA Science Team)

An article published in “Geophysical Research Letters” describes a study that attributes to a gigantic meteoric impact on Mars’ northern hemisphere almost 4.5 billion years ago some of the red planet’s features. According to Stephen Mojzsis of University of Colorado Boulder and Ramon Brasser of Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan that’s the cause of the presence of rare metals, of the differences between the northern and southern hemisphere and perhaps even the existence of its two moons.

Libya Montes (Image ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, , CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

ESA has published images of the area of the planet Mars known as Libya Montes taken by its Mars Express space probe. It’s a mountain range near the Martian equator and is one of the oldest in Mars, altered by volcanic processes and impacts but also by processes associated with the existence of rivers. In the pictures it’s possible to identify various channels and valleys, traces of the ancient water streams.

Maps of Pluto and Charon (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/LPI)

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the New Horizons space probe’s Pluto flyby, NASA has published a map of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon. The American Space Agency has also created two videos that partially reproduce that flight concentrating one on Pluto and one on Charon. They provide a truly unique perspective, giving the impression of being on board a spaceship flying by those celestial bodies.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

Yesterday NASA started publishing the first raw photos of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot taken by the Juno space probe during its July 10 flyby. All the scientific instruments were active but JunoCam is the one that has obtained the most spectacular results with the pictures of the iconic storm larger than the Earth. From now on, many fans started processing the images by contributing to the NASA database.

Exoplanets and binary systems (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article to be published in the “Astronomical Journal” describes a study of possible errors made in the density estimates of the exoplanets discovered using the transit method. Elise Furlan of Caltech/IPAC-NExScl and Steve Howell of NASA’s Ames Research Center analyzed the effect of the presence of a companion star on estimating the density of exoplanets in those systems, concluding that some of them are actually less dense than calculated.