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Jupiter Is Much Stranger Than Scientists Thought - The Atlantic. About every eight weeks, hundreds of millions of miles away, a basketball court-sized spacecraft named Juno swoops toward Jupiter.

Jupiter Is Much Stranger Than Scientists Thought - The Atlantic

For a few hours, Juno loops around the planet’s poles at high speed, sometimes getting within 2,100 miles of its atmosphere. It surveys Jupiter’s swirling, opaque cloud tops, and then gets flung out to the other edge of its orbit, beyond Callisto, the planet’s cratered moon. Jupiter is surrounded by a massive magnetic field that produces belts of radiation capable of frying Juno if it wasn’t wearing 400 pounds of protective titanium. NASA to Explore an Asteroid Containing Enough Mineral Wealth to Collapse the World Economy.

We think of asteroids as giant useless rocks floating around space.

NASA to Explore an Asteroid Containing Enough Mineral Wealth to Collapse the World Economy

Perhaps it’s a good place to hide the Millennium Falcon or a worrisome cause of a cataclysmic event. Though most are hunks of rock or ice, some are replete with iron, platinum, gold, and other precious minerals. Two NASA missions plan to explore such an asteroid, scheduled for 2021 and 2023. These are part of NASA’s Discovery Program, a class of mission considered inexpensive, capping out at $450 million apiece. Scientists will first launch a robotic spacecraft named Lucy in October 2021.

This kind of asteroid has never been studied before, according to Thomas Zurbuchen. See What the Huygens Spacecraft Saw When it Landed on Titan. ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona Perhaps the most exciting part of the Cassini spacecraft's 12-and-a-half years orbiting Saturn was back in December 2004, when the mothership deposited the European Space Agency's Huygens probe.

See What the Huygens Spacecraft Saw When it Landed on Titan

Twenty days later, in January 2005, Huygens became the first spacecraft to land on an object in the outer solar system. Scientists Find Hints Of A Giant, Hidden Planet In Our Solar System. The imagined view from Planet Nine back toward the sun.

Scientists Find Hints Of A Giant, Hidden Planet In Our Solar System

Astronomers think the huge, distant planet is likely gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) hide caption toggle caption Caltech/R. Rosetta discovers active sinkholes on 67P. The Rosetta spacecraft appears to have discovered the presence of a series of sinkholes on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P).

Rosetta discovers active sinkholes on 67P

They're responsible for some of the increasingly active gas streams that are being observed by the orbiter as the comet speeds towards perihelion. The new discovery was made using Rosetta's OSIRIS camera at a distance of 10 - 30 km (6 - 19 miles) between August - October 2014. Pluto's wobbly moons dance to a chaotic tune. Pluto and its largest satellite Charon are an odd pair.

Pluto's wobbly moons dance to a chaotic tune

The relative size of the Charon means the two act as a double planet system, orbiting a center of gravity located between them in space. A study of data gathered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has now found that this interaction is having an odd effect on Pluto's smaller moons, causing them to tumble unpredictably with no apparent method to their madness.

Scientists made the discovery after analyzing images of Pluto taken by Hubble between 2005 and 2012. Stunning New Photo Of Europa Shows Jupiter's Icy Moon Just As The Human Eye Would See It. It's the most extraordinary image ever of Europa.

Stunning New Photo Of Europa Shows Jupiter's Icy Moon Just As The Human Eye Would See It

NASA's newly "remastered" photo of Jupiter's icy moon (below) shows the satellite's geology in stunning, high-definition detail. And unlike a similar image released previously--in which the colors were artificially enhanced--the new photo shows Europa pretty much as the human eye would see it. (Story continues below image.) The color variations across the cracked surface indicate the surface geology. Blue and white areas contain relatively pure water ice.

Philae makes historic first landing on comet. History was made today as a spacecraft the size of a fridge executed the first successful landing on a comet.

Philae makes historic first landing on comet

The European Space Agency (ESA) confirms that at about 16:00 GMT the unmanned Philae space probe touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the landing site known as Agilkia. The comet and spacecraft are 510 milion km (310 million miles) from Earth, so the news of the landing took 28 minutes and 20 seconds to reach mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

View all. Photo Shows Lander Sitting On Comet After Bounce-Landing. The Philae lander beamed back images showing one of its three feet on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko .

Photo Shows Lander Sitting On Comet After Bounce-Landing

This photo is compiled from two images; a wider version will be released later Thursday. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA hide caption itoggle caption ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA. 'Singing Comet' Detected By Rosetta Is Pure Science Weirdness. Comet Pan-STARRS is seen over the tower on the left as a 1 day waxing crescent Moon is seen setting in the Western sky on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

'Singing Comet' Detected By Rosetta Is Pure Science Weirdness

The dark side of the Moon is lit by reflected light from the Earth, and is called Earthshine. (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman) Comet Pan-STARRS is seen about 40 minutes after Sunset in the Western sky from Tyler, Texas on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Dr. Homepage DD1US / Sounds from Scientific, Meteorological and Commercial Satellites. Rosetta discovers comet smells like rotten eggs and horse poo. Comets may be deep-frozen fossils that could provide clues as to the earliest days of the Solar System, but what does one smell like? Not very nice, says ESA, whose Rosetta space probe has discovered that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) has the aroma of rotten eggs and horse dung. View all. A Mysterious Shape Just Appeared on the Surface of Titan. Saturn's moon Titan is sort of like a bizarro version of Earth, an extraterrestrial tease that's home to lakes, rivers, rain, and wind. This combination of attributes means the would-be twin is host to a variety of landforms Earthlings might find familiar, including mountains and dunes rippling along the solid surfaces of a relatively smooth (uncratered) sphere.

Titan is home to the only thick atmosphere so far observed on a natural satellite, along with the only stable surface bodies of liquid (lakes) observed on any celestial body outside of Earth itself. No matter that Titan's rivers and lakes are actually full of liquid methane and ethane and its surface temperature hovers around −179.2 °C, the moon is a playground for the Earth-bound imagination. It helps that Titan also seems interested in playing along. All of those explanations, however, would seem to be things we might have observed previously. Before: Planet Mercury Fully Mapped for First Time. The surface of the planet Mercury has been completely mapped for the first time in history, scientists say.

The closest planet to the sun hasn't received as much scientific attention as some of its more flashy solar system neighbors, such as Mars, but NASA's Messenger spacecraft is helping to close the gap. The probe has been in orbit around Mercury since March 2011, and its team announced Feb. 28 that the spacecraft had finished mapping the planet's surface. "We can now say we have imaged every square meter of Mercury's surface from orbit," said Messenger principal investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Admittedly, some regions are in permanent shadow, but we're actually peering into those shadows with our imaging systems. " Before Messenger, less than half the surface had been imaged by NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft, which made several flybys of Mercury in 1974 and 1975.

Planet Mercury: Simple Facts, Tough Quiz. Jupiter Moon's Underground Ocean Bubbles up to Surface. The huge ocean sloshing beneath the icy shell of Jupiter's moon Europa likely makes its way to the surface in some places, suggesting astronomers may not need to drill down deep to investigate it, a new study reports. Scientists have detected chemicals on Europa's frozen surface that could only come from the global liquid-water ocean beneath, implying the two are in contact and potentially opening a window into an environment that may be capable of supporting life as we know it. Russian Meteorite Sourced to Apollo Asteroid Orbit. US scientists seek to prevent another meteor explosion.

This month's meteor detonation above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and Earth's close shave with asteroid 2012 DA14 have kick-started conversations on lessons learned and what steps can be taken to prevent space rock impacts in the future. Skip to next paragraph. Tiny Sun Activity Changes Affect Earth's Climate. Even small changes in solar activity can impact Earth's climate in significant and surprisingly complex ways, researchers say. The sun is a constant star when compared with many others in the galaxy. Asteroid to miss Earth by less than 20,000 miles next month. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15.

If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth. Evidence for active hollows formation on Mercury. Huge Asteroid's Earth Flyby Caught on Video. A new video captures the giant asteroid 4179 Toutatis tumbling through space on its flyby of Earth earlier this week. The asteroid Toutatis video, which is about 40 seconds long, combines 64 radar images taken Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 12 and 13) by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. On those days, Toutatis was about 4.3 million miles (7 million kilometers) from Earth, or about 18 times farther away than the moon is. The new radar images — which have a resolution of 12 feet (3.75 meters) per pixel — show the 3-mile-wide (5 kilometers) asteroid in striking detail.

Toutatis is revealed to be an elongated, irregularly shaped object with multiple ridges, researchers said. Strange bright glints may indicate surface boulders, they added. Voyager 1 Probe Enters New Region Of Space, Encounters 'Magnetic Highway,' NASA Says. Water On Mercury: NASA Announces Discovery Of Ice At Planet's Poles. Astronomers get their first close look at dwarf planet Makemake. In April 2011, Makemake – one of five dwarf planets in our Solar System – passed between Earth and a distant star. Using seven telescopes, an international team of astronomers observed the event, known as stellar occultation, and through careful analysis, have determined the planet's size, density, and even the nature of its atmosphere.

Dwarf planets are celestial bodies that directly orbit the sun, but do not possess the gravitational forces necessary to clear their orbits of other astronomical objects. Makemake shares our Solar System with four other dwarf planets; Ceres, Eris, Haumea and Pluto.