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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Discoveries in planetary science are often both weird and wonderful, and these newest announcements are no exception. This week we present a few of the most interesting recent scientific findings from our missions and NASA-funded planetary science. Take a look:

1. Seeing Spots

Scientists from our Dawn mission unveiled new images from the spacecraft’s lowest orbit at the dwarf planet Ceres, including highly anticipated views of the famous “bright spots” of Occator Crater. Take a look HERE.

2. Pluto’s Secrets Brought to Light

A year ago, Pluto was just a bright speck in the cameras of our approaching New Horizons spacecraft, not much different than its appearances in telescopes since Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet in 1930. Now, New Horizons scientists have authored the first comprehensive set of papers describing results from last summer’s Pluto system flyby. Find out more HERE.

3. Rising Above the Rest

In a nod to extraterrestrial mountaineers of the future, scientists working on our Cassini mission have identified the highest point on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The tallest peak is 10,948 feet (3,337 meters) high and is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes, named for the mountains in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

4. Does the “Man in the Moon” Have a New Face?

New NASA-funded research provides evidence that the spin axis of Earth’s moon shifted by about five degrees roughly three billion years ago. The evidence of this motion is recorded in the distribution of ancient lunar ice, evidence of delivery of water to the early solar system.

5. X-Ray Vision

Solar storms are triggering X-ray auroras on Jupiter that are about eight times brighter than normal over a large area of the planet and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth’s “northern lights,” according to a new study using data from our Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of things to know this week about the solar system HERE.

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