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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

See our home planet from Mars, learn about our latest Discovery missions, see stunning imagery from the Cassini mission and more!

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

1. Our Home

The powerful HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this incredible image of our home and moon. The image combines two separate exposures taken on Nov. 20, 2016. 

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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

2. Our Latest Missions of Discovery

We’ve selected two new missions to explore the early solar system. Lucy, a robotic spacecraft scheduled to launch in October 2021, is slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025. From 2027 to 2033, Lucy will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids. These asteroids are trapped by Jupiter’s gravity in two swarms that share the planet’s orbit, one leading and one trailing Jupiter in its 12-year circuit around the sun.

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Psyche, targeted to launch in October 2023, will explore one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt–a giant metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche. The asteroid is about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and thought to be comprised mostly of iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core.

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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

3. Image From Cassini  

Cassini took so many jaw-dropping photos last year, how could anyone choose just 10? Well, the Cassini team didn’t. Here are 17 amazing photos from Saturn and its moons last year.

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

4. The Colors of Mars

Impact craters have exposed the subsurface materials on the steep slopes of Mars. However, these slopes often experience rockfalls and debris avalanches that keep the surface clean of dust, revealing a variety of hues, like in this enhanced-color image from our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, representing different rock types. 

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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

5. More From New Horizons

Even though our New Horizons mission flew by Pluto in 2015, the scientific discoveries keep coming. Using a model similar to what meteorologists use to forecast weather and a computer simulation of the physics of evaporating ices, scientists have found evidence of snow and ice features that, until now, had only been seen on Earth.

Discover the full list of 10 things to know about our solar system this week HERE.

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