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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Learn all about the end of the Rosetta Mission and more about the weather on Mars, the Moon’s colorful palette.

1. Rosetta’s Last Dance

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The Rosetta mission was one of firsts: the first to orbit a comet and the first to dispatch a lander to a comet’s surface. Rosetta transformed our understanding of these ancient wanderers, and this week, mission controllers will command the spacecraft to execute a series of maneuvers to bring it out of orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Watch live on Sept. 30 from 6:15-8 a.m. EDT, the Rosetta mission’s 12-year odyssey in space reaches its conclusion. Rosetta will descend to make a planned impact on the comet’s surface with its instruments recording science data during descent.

+Watch live as Rosetta crash lands on NASA TV, recording data along the way

+More on the mission’s final descent

+Mission highlights

2.  Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter’s Moon Europa

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On Monday, Sept. 26, our scientists announced what may be
water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope.
This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon
erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

+Learn the latest on Europa

3. Not So Impossible After All

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Scientists have found an “impossible” ice cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan. The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud prompted our researchers to suggest that a different process than previously thought could be forming clouds on Titan. The process may be similar to one seen over Earth’s poles. Today, the Cassini spacecraft will perform a targeted Titan flyby, skimming just 1,079 miles (1,736 kilometers) above its hazy surface. Several of Cassini’s instruments will be watching for clouds and other phenomena in the atmosphere, as well as taking measurements of the surface.

+Learn more about Titan’s clouds

4. Lunar Intrigue

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Earth’s moon is a colorless world of grays and whites, right? Not really. As seen in these images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, some landscapes on the moon reveal a whole range of color. One such place is the mountainous complex of ancient lava flows known as the Lassell Massif, one of the moon’s so-called “red spots.”

+Take a look

5. Weather Report: Mars

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A camera aboard our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter monitors global weather patterns daily. The most recent report includes the remains of a large dust storm in the Noachis region, and smaller tempests spotted along the edge of the south polar ice cap and water-ice clouds over the volcano Arsia Mons.

+ Learn more and see Mars weather videos

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

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