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Solar System

Sun | Mercury | Venus | Mars | Jupiter | Saturn | Uranus | Neptune | Pluto | Moon | Comets/Asteroids


Genesis Scooping Up Solar Wind. Pasadena - Dec 01, 2003
The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun. Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal operation.

Sun Sheds Skin And Flips. Greenbelt - Nov 20, 2003
Research with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun's magnetic field that is known to occur every 11 years. This newly recognized factor in the Sun's magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand huge eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). (Note that Kent Hovind does not believe a magnetic field can reverse especially on earth)

Is The Sun An Iron-Rich Powerhouse. Rolla - Nov 18, 2003
The spate of solar storms to hit Earth in recent days may be caused by the sun's iron-rich interior, says a UMR researcher who theorizes that the sun's core is made of iron rather than hydrogen.

Sun Erupts With Intense Activity. Boulder - Oct 24, 2003
Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed two dynamic areas of the sun, one of which has produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME, Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. EDT that appears to be Earth-directed. The forecasters are predicting a strong geomagnetic storm, G-3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales, that should reach Earth on Friday, October 24.

Solar Flares From The Galactic Deep. Huntsville - Sep 15, 2003
On August 24, 1998, there was an explosion on the sun as powerful as a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Earth-orbiting satellites registered a surge of x-rays. Minutes later they were pelted by fast-moving solar protons. Our planet's magnetic field recoiled from the onslaught, and ham radio operators experienced a strong shortwave blackout.

Chemist suggests that Sun is stringy
Sun's magnetic fields may behave like polymer chains. 10 September 2003.

Antimatter Factory On Sun Yields Clues To Solar Explosions. Greenbelt - Sep 04, 2003
The best look yet at how a solar explosion becomes an antimatter factory gave unexpected insights into how the tremendous explosions work. The observation may upset theories about how the explosions, called solar flares, create and destroy antimatter. It also gave surprising details about how they blast subatomic particles to almost the speed of light. See also

Vast Conveyer Belts Drive 11-Year Cycle Of Solar Maximum. See

Scientists Image The Three- Dimensional Surface Of The Sun. Laurel - Jun 18, 2003 - Solar physicists from Lockheed Martin, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, The Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics of the University of Oslo, and the Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have analyzed the highest resolution images ever taken near the solar limb (or visible edge of the sun), and found a surprising variety of structure. See

Data Shows Solar Flares 20 Million Degrees Hotter Than Expected. Columbia - Jun 18, 2003 - For scientists who study solar flares, the hottest spots in the solar system just got substantially hotter. The hottest spots in solar flares reach temperatures as much as 20 million degrees Fahrenheit hotter than solar physicists had previously believed, topping out at more than 80 million degrees Fahrenheit. And from about 5 million degrees just before a flare, in less than a minute temperatures in the sun's atmosphere can warm by more than 75 million degrees. See

Powerful 'Conveyer Belts' Drive Sun's 11-year Cycle, New Evidence Suggests
NASA and university astronomers have found evidence that the 11-year sunspot cycle is driven in part by a giant conveyor belt-like, circulating current within the Sun. See

3-D Map Of Local Space Shows Sun Lies In Middle Of Hole Piercing Galactic Plane
The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy, perhaps left by an exploding star one or two million years ago. See

Sun's Role In Climate Change Continues To Spark Controversy

Weather Cells Form Around Magnetic Storms On Solar Surface: Boulder - Feb 17, 2003 - Clusters of sunspots form their own weather patterns on the sun, according to new observations by a team of University of Colorado at Boulder researchers. See

The Inconstant Sun
Huntsville - Jan 20, 2003 - Our Sun may seem an enduring, unwavering beacon in the sky, but in truth it has a "heartbeat" of sorts--a pulsation between dimmer and brighter phases so slow that it only "beats" 9 times each century! See

New Space Weather Journal Will Track Solar Science: Washington - Feb 10, 2003 - The American Geophysical Union will soon launch the first journal devoted to the emerging field of space weather and its impact on technical systems, including telecommunications, electric power, and satellite navigation. Space Weather: The International Journal of Research and Applications will present peer-reviewed research, as well as news, features, and opinion articles. See

Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered
Solar physicists at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London (MSSL-UCL) have discovered new clues to understanding explosions on the Sun. See



Venus possibly habitable for billions of years
The planet's hellish climate may have arisen far more recently than thought, leaving plenty of time for life to have developed.  

Earth's Moon

Whitehouse Pops Trial Lunar Balloon On Launch.

Lunar Polar Ice Not Found With Arecibo Radar. Arecibo - Nov 13, 2003
Despite evidence from two space probes in the 1990s, radar astronomers say they can find no signs of thick ice at the moon's poles. If there is water at the lunar poles, the researchers say, it is widely scattered and permanently frozen inside the dust layers, something akin to terrestrial permafrost. See also

What's the Moon Made Of? Oct. 1, 2003
Space researchers have used invisible X-rays, reflecting off the surface of the moon, to find out what our nearest solar neighbor is made of and how it was formed. The research, done at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., found oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon present over a large area of the Moon's surface.

Chandra Solves Mystery of Moon's Dark Side
Astronomers have found a new use for the Chandra X-ray observatory: probing the surface of the moon. New observations provide direct evidence of lunar composition. Knowing exactly what elements make up the satellite and how they are distributed will help researchers determine just how our satellite was formed. In addition, the data may clear up a decade-old debate about the dark regions of the moon.

Lunar Prospecting With Chandra. Huntsville - Sep 16, 2003
Observations of the bright side of the Moon with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have detected oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon over a large area of the lunar surface. The abundance and distribution of those elements will help to determine how the Moon was formed.

New Findings Could Dash Hopes For Past Oceans On Mars
Tempe - Aug 26, 2003 - After a decades-long quest, scientists analyzing data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft have at last found critical evidence the spacecraft's infrared spectrometer instrument was built to search for: the presence of water-related carbonate minerals on the surface of Mars.

Mars movements spark huge rise in German "UFO sightings"  

Europe's First Moon Probe Prepares For Launch
Paris - Aug 18, 2003 - Europe's first probe to the Moon, SMART-1, is about to begin a unique journey that will take it into orbit around our closest neighbour powered only by an ion engine, which Europe will be testing for the first time as main spacecraft propulsion.

Moon dates Van Gogh. An astronomical calculation has pinned down the date and time portrayed in one of Vincent Van Gogh's famous paintings. See

May's Total Lunar Eclipse
For almost an hour on the night of May 15–16, the full Moon will turn dim and fiery orange. See

Total Lunar Eclipse: May 15-16, 2003. When the Bible talks about the moon turning to blood, I believe it is talking about a lunar eclipse when the moon turns a dark reddish color. See

Five times more water on Moon? The Moon may harbors five times more water than we thought, reckon researchers in the United States who have doubled previous estimates of how much of the lunar surface is permanently dark. See

Lunar Impact Mystery Solved: Pasadena - Feb 21, 2003 - In the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 1953, an amateur astronomer in Oklahoma photographed what he believed to be a massive, white-hot fireball of vaporized rock rising from the center of the moon's face. See

Explaining the Moon's Ancient Magnetism: These days, a compass on the moon doesn't do much because there is no magnetic field to entice its hands to move. But it may not have always been so. Analysis of rocks recovered during the Apollo missions has uncovered telltale signs of ancient lunar magnetism. A new computer model may help explain the magnetism mystery. See

The Strange Case Of The Missing Moon's Magnetism: A 30-year-old riddle over the Moon's lost magnetism may finally be answered, scientists report on Thursday in Nature, the British science weekly. See 

Moon's Early History May Have Been Interrupted By Big Burp: Berkeley - Jan 10, 2003 - Using a state-of-the-art computer model of the lunar interior, geophysicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that a mighty burp early in the moon's history could account for some of its geologic mysteries. See 

Moon Meteorite Mystery
We find as many chunks of Mars lying on Earth as chunks of the Moon — although the Moon is closer and loses pieces more easily. Why? See


Beagle 2 Landing Site In 3D. London - Dec 17, 2003
As the time for Beagle 2 separation approaches a 3D representation of the landing site is available for download. Keyhole is a revolutionary software product that enables computer users to interact with a 3D model of a planet directly on the own PC.

An Odyssey Of Mars Science: Part 1. Sacramento - Dec 18, 2003
This year's meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences -- the Solar System-related branch of the American Astronomical Society provided the most detailed reports yet on Martian science using data from the Odyssey and Surveyor missions. SpaceDaily's Bruce Moomaw attended the 2004 DPS meeting and in a series of reports over coming weeks Moomaw will provide readers with an overview of the latest science from Mars.

Mars Is Just Around The Corner. Paris - Dec 11, 2003
After a journey of 400 million km, ESA's Mars Express is now approaching its final destination. On 19 December, the spacecraft is scheduled to release the Beagle 2 lander it has been carrying since its launch on 2 June.

Mars-Like Atacama Desert Could Explain Viking No Life Results. Moffett Field - Nov 10, 2003
A team of scientists from NASA, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Louisiana State University and several other research organizations has discovered clues from one of Earth's driest deserts about the limits of life on Earth, and why past missions to Mars may have failed to detect life.

Delta-Like Fan On Mars Suggests Ancient Rivers Were Persistent
Newly seen details in a fan-shaped apron of debris on Mars may help settle a decades-long debate about whether the planet had long-lasting rivers instead of just brief, intense floods.

Volcanic Lake May Hold Clues to Mars Life. Nov. 4, 2003
A team of scientists is making its way to a lake at the top of the world where, despite blasting solar radiation and little protection from atmospheric ozone, life took hold and continues to thrive today.

Green Mineral Suggests Mars Has Been Bone Dry For A Billion Years. Tempe - Oct 24, 2003
The presence of a common green mineral on Mars suggests that the red planet could have been cold and dry since the mineral has been exposed, which may be more than a billion years according to new research appearing in the Oct. 24 edition of Science.

Rocks Could Reveal Secrets Of Life On Earth - And Mars. Glasgow - Oct 13, 2003
A new UK project could help detect evidence of life on Mars and improve our understanding of how life evolved on Earth. The aim is to develop a technique that can identify biomolecules in water that have been trapped in rocks for millions to billions of years.

Early Mars Was Frozen - But Habitable: Part II. Moffett Field - Sep 24, 2003 - Early Mars was cold - very cold, says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. But that doesn't mean it was incapable of supporting life. McKay has extensively studied life in some of the harshest environments in the world: the Antarctic dry valleys, the Arctic, and the Atacama desert.

Early Mars Was Frozen: But Habitable. Moffett Field - Sep 18, 2003
Early Mars was cold - very cold, says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. But that doesn't mean it was incapable of supporting life.

Red planet's hue due to meteors, not water
Mars's distinctive colour may have come a dusting of tiny meteors, rather than by liquid water rusting its rocks, suggests a US study.

Some now doubt Mars had seas but say life still possible
Researchers say there is virtually no evidence of limestone formation on Mars, a finding that suggests the planet never had oceans or seas. That conclusion, however, does not alter the possibility of life on Mars, experts say.

NASA lander to target Martian north pole
Phoenix will dig into the soil at the frozen pole hoping to determine if it provides a viable habitat for life today, or did so in the past. See

New Species Of Organism Found In Mars-Like Environment. Huntsville - Aug 01, 2003 - They thrive without oxygen, growing in salty, alkaline conditions, and may offer insights into what kinds of life might survive on Mars. They're a new species of organism, isolated by scientists at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) in Huntsville, Ala. See

Stream of radon There should be plenty of water on Mars. Water vapour has already been detected in the planet's atmosphere, and ice on the surface at the poles. But much of the water may be buried underground. Locating this hidden store is not easy, but radon could be the answer. This gas, produced by radioactive decay, is usually trapped in minerals. But the presence of water or ice allows it to seep up to the surface, providing a wafting signpost. See

Los Alamos Releases New Maps Of A Martian Ice World. Los Alamos - Jul 25, 2003 - "Breathtaking" new maps of likely sites of water on Mars showcase their association with geologic features such as Vallis Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system. See

Delta 2 Launches First Of Dual Mars Rovers. Washington - Jun 10, 2003 - Delayed twice due to bad weather, NASA's launch of the first of two rovers went off without a hitch today with a successful launch at 1:58 pm (1758 GMT). The spacecraft will now begin traversing some 500 million kilometers over seven months, before dropping into Gusev crater, 15 degrees south of the Martian equator, in early January 2004. See

Odyssey Thermal Data Reveals a Changing Mars. Temple - Jun 11, 2003 - The first overview analysis of a year's worth of high-resolution infrared data gathered by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is opening Mars to a new kind of detailed geological analysis and revealing a dynamic planet that has experienced dramatic environmental change. See

Europe Launches First Ever Mars Space Mission. See

First-Ever Snapshot Released Of Mother Earth From Mars
Have you ever wondered what you would see if you were on Mars looking at Earth through a small telescope? Now you can find out, thanks to a unique view of our world recently captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet. See

New Mars Water Theory Looks at Wind. May 7, 2003 — Mars' most celebrated watery feature may not from water at all, but from wind, says a geologist who has found the driest, dustiest explanation yet for Martian gullies. See

Tank-Inspired Robot Set To Hunt Microbes On Mars: London (AFP) May 02, 2003 - Scientists in Britain have designed a tank-inspired robot set to hunt microbes on Mars and and establish whether human colonies could survive in the hostile environment of the Red Planet. Researchers say they turned to military-inspired caterpillar tracks which change shape as they roll over obstacles. The 40,000-euro (45,000 dollars) research at Kingston University near London, funded by the European Space Agency, is aimed at getting the robot to Mars by 2011. See

NASA Orders New Mars Airplane Prototype. Manassas - May 07, 2003 - Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. has received an order from the NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., for a full-scale prototype of a proposed Mars airplane. The aircraft is being built as part of the Mars Scout Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) project of which Dr. Joel S. Levine is the Principal Investigator. See

Russia, US Agree To Explore Mars Together. Moscow (AFP) May 05, 2003 - Russia and the United States have agreed to launch a joint programme of Mars exploration, officials said here Monday after talks between the heads of the US and Russian space agencies. The two countries "have agreed to begin joint exploration of Mars and carry out joint unmanned interplanetary station flight programmes," said Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for Russia's Rosaviakosmos space agency. See

The Radar Search For Martian Water. Dublin - Apr 22, 2003 - Until the last few years, Mars has been regarded as a cold, arid world that lost most of its water long ago. However, recent observations by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey spacecraft have provided tantalising evidence that huge amounts of water may be hidden just below the surface. See

Prolific NASA Orbiter Adds Thousands Of Photos To Mars Album
The winds of Mars leave their marks on many of the 11,664 new pictures being posted on the Internet by the camera team for NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission. The images are available on the Internet from the Mars Orbiter Camera Gallery at:

Odyssey Points To Melting Snow As Cause Of Gullies: Pasadena - Feb 20, 2003 - Images from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, combined with those from Mars Global Surveyor, suggest melting snow is the likely cause of the numerous eroded gullies first documented on Mars in 2000 by Global Surveyor. The martian gullies were created by trickling water from melting snow packs, not underground springs or pressurized flows, as previously suggested, argues Dr. Philip Christensen, principal investigator for Odyssey's camera system. See

Los Alamos Makes First Map Of Ice Distribution On Mars: Denver - Feb 17, 2003 - Lurking just beneath the surface of Mars is enough water to cover the entire planet ankle-deep, says Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Bill Feldman. See

Meteorite Hints at Mars' Watery Past: Jan. 27, 2003— Analysis of a Martian meteorite that fell to Earth suggests that magma rocks beneath the surface of the Red Planet once were rich in water, a scientific panel that carried out the study said here on Thursday. See 

Mars May Be Much Older Or Younger Than Thought: Buffalo - Jan 24, 2003 - Research by a University at Buffalo planetary geologist suggests that generally accepted estimates about the geologic age of surfaces on Mars -- which influence theories about its history and whether or not it once sustained life -- could be way off. See 

Co2 Flows Could Carve Mars Gullies: Melbourne - Jan 06, 2003 - An Australian geologist has identified what could be the first ever active flow of fluids through gullies on Mars. University of Melbourne geologist, Dr Nick Hoffman, identified recent gully and channel development near the polar regions of Mars from images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. But contrary to the majority of scientific opinion which suggests that such features were carved by liquid water, Hoffman says the flow is most likely frozen carbon dioxide. See 

Carnegie Mellon Scientist to Develop Probes to Detect Life on Mars: Pittsburgh - Feb 12, 2003 - Carnegie Mellon University scientist Professor Alan Waggoner has received a three-year $900,000 award from NASA to develop fluorescent-dye-based systems to be used in remote operations to detect life on Mars and in other hostile or distant environments. See

NASA Study Shows How Water May Have Flowed On Ancient Mars: Moffett Field - Feb 13, 2003 - NASA scientists have discovered how an intricate Martian network of streams, rivers and lakes may have carried water across Mars. Using new three-dimensional data from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and a powerful state-of-the-art computer code that 'models' overland water flow, scientists visualized the complex flow of Martian water. See

The Martian Polar Caps Are Almost Entirely Water Ice: Pasadena - Feb 14, 2003 - For future Martian astronauts, finding a plentiful water supply may be as simple as grabbing an ice pick and getting to work. California Institute of Technology planetary scientists studying new satellite imagery think that the Martian polar ice caps are made almost entirely of water ice-with just a smattering of frozen carbon dioxide, or "dry ice," at the surface. See

Mars May Still Have Liquid Iron Core: Pasadena - Mar 07, 2003 - New information about what is inside Mars shows the Red Planet has a molten liquid-iron core, confirming the interior of the planet has some similarity to Earth and Venus. See

NASA'S Mars Odyssey Changes Views About Red Planet
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has transformed the way scientists are looking at the red planet. "In just one year, Mars Odyssey has fundamentally changed our understanding of the nature of the materials on and below the surface of Mars," said Dr. Jeffrey Plaut, Odyssey's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. See


Europa: Frozen Ocean in Motion. Moffett Field - Nov 27, 2003
The Jovian moon, Europa, is the smallest of the four satellites first discovered by Galileo in 1610. Slightly smaller than the Earth's moon, Europa's two-thousand mile diameter however reflects about five times as much light as our Moon.

NASA's Galileo Space Probe Disintegrates Over Jupiter. Washington (AFP) Sep 22, 2003
NASA's Galileo space probe, which revolutionized scientists' understanding of Jupiter and its moons, made its last transmissions Sunday and then disintegrated spectacularly in Jupiter's atmosphere. National Aeronautics and Space Administration technicians in charge of Jupiter's final mission lost contact with Galileo shortly after 1940 hours GMT Sunday. However, the probe was lost almost a hour before this, as it took some 52 minutes for Galileo's transmissions to reach earth.

Historic Galileo Mission Nears End. Pasadena - Sep 15, 2003
Following eight years of capturing dramatic images and surprising science from Jupiter and its moons, NASA's Galileo mission draws to a close September 21 with a plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere.

Europa's Ice Domes: Elevator Ride For Life? Sept. 5, 2003
Mysterious ice domes on Jupiter's moon Europa, are caused by an upwelling of warmer ice from below, confirm two U.S. researchers, whose findings have implications for discovering past and present life on the planet.

Europan Ice Domes Could Be First Place To Look For Life. Boulder - Sep 03, 2003
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study of Jupiter's moon Europa may help explain the origin of the giant ice domes peppering its surface and the implications for discovering evidence of past or present life forms there.

New Spacecraft Tool Reveals Massive Gas Cloud Around Jupiter
Using a sensitive new imaging instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, researchers have discovered a large and surprisingly dense gas cloud sharing an orbit with Jupiter's icy moon Europa. See

Jupiter's Moon, Io Spews Salt: The Jupiter satellite Io, one of the most volcanic bodies in the Solar System, has an atmosphere laced with salt, disgorged by its fiery eruptions, a French-led team of astronomers reported Thursday. See 

After 14 years, Galileo's space journey nears end
As NASA temporarily grounds its shuttle fleet after the Columbia disaster, an unmanned spacecraft that has been exploring the solar system for 14 years is nearing the end of its mission - and still revealing the secrets of a planet hundreds of millions of miles from Earth. See 

New Spacecraft Tool Reveals Massive Gas Cloud Around Jupiter
Using a sensitive new imaging instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, researchers have discovered a large and surprisingly dense gas cloud sharing an orbit with Jupiter's icy moon Europa. See

Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes: San Antonio - Mar 10, 2003 - Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn, are flipping at least one long-standing notion about Jupiter upside down. See

Solar System's Giant Jupiter, Now Has 52 Satellites: Paris (AFP) Mar 10, 2003 - Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, now has 52 moons, thanks to a flurry of 12 satellites discovered by astronomers last month. The team discovered seven new satellites in early February and a few days later uncovered another five, according to a report on the website of the University of Hawaii. See


Saturn To Ring In The New Year. Huntsville - Dec 14, 2003
When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31st, heralding the start of 2004, dash outside and look up. Directly overhead you'll see a yellow star outshining the others around it. That star is a planet: Saturn, having its closest encounter with Earth for the next 29 years.

Saturn-Bound Spacecraft Tests Einstein's Theory. Pasadena - Oct 07, 2003
An experiment by Italian scientists using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, confirms Einstein's theory of general relativity with a precision that is 50 times greater than previous measurements.

Evidence For Hydrocarbon Lakes On Titan Found. Arecibo - Oct 07, 2003
The smog-shrouded atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has been parted by Earth-based radar to reveal the first evidence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes on its surface. The observations are reported by a Cornell University-led astronomy team working with the world's largest radio/radar telescope at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory.

Calmer Times For Windy Saturn. Paris (AFP) Jun 04, 2003 - Saturn, one of the windiest places in the Solar System, is undergoing a dramatic weather change. Just over two decades ago, snapshots of the distinctive clouds in Saturn's equatorial region showed a jetstream that sped along at a bruising 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) per hour. Now the winds have slowed to a relatively pedestrian 1,100 kph (690 mph), according to astronomers. Outside the equatorial belt, the planet's wind speeds appear not to have changed. See

Saturn’s moon Titan, is where orange haze forms an atmosphere ten times as thick as the one on Earth. Because so little light can escape its atmosphere, Titan is shrouded by an opaque curtain that has prevented planetary scientists from learning much about what lies beneath the haze. But work published today in the journal Science provides the clearest picture yet of Titan's surface. The findings indicate that the moon is covered, at least in part, by frozen water. See

Titan's Great Lakes: See


Hubble Uncovers Smallest Moons Yet Seen Around Uranus.
Astronomers have discovered two of the smallest moons yet found around Uranus. The new moons, uncovered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, are about 8 to 10 miles across (12 to 16 km) — about the size of San Francisco.


Brighter Neptune Suggests A Planetary Change Of Seasons
Springtime is blooming on Neptune! This might sound like an oxymoron because Neptune is the farthest and coldest of the major planets. But NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations are revealing an increase in Neptune's brightness in the southern hemisphere, which is considered a harbinger of seasonal change, say astronomers. See

New Moons Found Around Neptune: Boston - Jan 14, 2003 - A team of astronomers led by Matthew Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and JJ Kavelaars (National Research Council of Canada) has discovered three previously unknown moons of Neptune. See 

First Neptune Trojan Discovered: Tucson - Jan 09, 2003 - Astronomers have discovered a small body orbiting the Sun at the distance of Neptune whose orbit makes it the first known member of a long-sought population of objects known as Neptune Trojans. See 


New Surprises from Mysterious Pluto Pluto, the most distant of the nine planets in our solar system, has piqued the curiosity of astronomers once again. It seems the planet's atmosphere is expanding as it travels away from the sun, rather than contracting as expected. See

Stellar Occultations Reveal Drastic Expansion Of Pluto's Atmosphere. Paris - Jul 10, 2003 - Moving on its eccentric orbit, Pluto is presently receding from the Sun; between 1979 and 1999 it was inside Neptune's orbit, but since then it has again been the planet most distant from the Sun. As it moves outward, the amount of solar energy that reaches its surface decreases, so its surface is expected to cool. See

Astronomers Discover Icy World Far Past Pluto: Astronomers have discovered the largest object in the solar system since Pluto was identified more than 70 years ago. The object, dubbed Quaoar (pronounced "kwa-whar") by its discoverers, is approximately half Pluto's size and nearly four billion miles away from Earth.

Do Pluto's Other Children Hide In The Shadow Of Charon: Boulder - Feb 25, 2003 - Pluto has only one known satellite - Charon - discovered in 1978 by American astronomer James Christy. At slightly more than half the diameter of Pluto, Charon's 1,200-kilometer diameter makes it the undisputed "relative size" king of solar system satellites. See

The Kuipers Beckon As Pluto Mission Funded: Sacramento - Mar 03, 2003 - After years of uncertainty, the strange "Pluto War" over whether to launch a Pluto flyby spacecraft in the near future is finally almost completely over - and Pluto won. NASA, Congress and the White House finally agreed that they do want an early Pluto probe rather than waiting years for as yet untested nuclear electric propulsion system to be developed and flight tested enough for dispatch to Pluto and out in the Kuiper belt beyond. See


Dust explains shooting stars' twin streaks
Rise and fall makes some meteors leave two trails in night sky.

UK Scientists All Set For New Year Encounter With A Comet. London - Dec 17, 2003
On January 2nd 2004 the NASA space mission, Stardust, will fly through comet Wild 2, capturing interstellar particles and dust and returning them to Earth in 2006. Space scientists from the Open University and University of Kent have developed one of the instruments which will help tell us more about comets and the evolution of our own solar system and, critical for Stardust, its survival in the close fly-by of the comet.

NASA Scientists Use Radar To Detect Asteroid Force. Pasadena - Dec 08, 2003
NASA scientists have for the first time detected a tiny but theoretically important force acting on asteroids by measuring an extremely subtle change in a near-Earth asteroid's orbital path.

NASA Spacecraft Pinpoints Where the Wild Thing is. Pasadena - Dec 02, 2003
Forty-nine days before its historic rendezvous with a comet, NASA's Stardust spacecraft successfully photographed its quarry, comet Wild 2 (pronounced Vilt-2), from 25 million kilometers (15.5 million miles) away. The image, the first of many comet portraits it will take over the next four weeks, will aid Stardust's navigators and scientists as they plot their final trajectory toward a Jan. 2, 2004 flyby and collection of samples from Wild 2.

The Curious Tale of Asteroid Hermes. Pasadena - Nov 03, 2003
It's dogma now: an asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. But in 1980 when scientists Walter and Luis Alvarez first suggested the idea to a gathering at the American Association for Advancement of Sciences, their listeners were skeptical. Asteroids hitting Earth? Wiping out species? It seemed incredible.

Large Asteroid Is Two Orbiting Objects
An asteroid that has eluded astronomers for decades turns out to be an unusual pair of objects traveling together in space. The asteroid Hermes was rediscovered last week after being lost for 66 years. Now Jean-Luc Margot, a researcher in UCLA's department of Earth and space sciences, has determined that the asteroid is, in fact, two objects orbiting each other. The two objects together would cover an area approximately the size of Disneyland.

Asteroid 2003 QQ47's Potential Earth Impact in 2014 Ruled Out. Pasadena - Sep 03, 2003
Newly discovered asteroid 2003 QQ47 has received considerable media attention over the last few days because it had a small chance of colliding with the Earth in the year 2014 and was rated a "1" on the Torino impact hazard scale, which goes from 0 to 10.

View Of Comets As Pristine Relics Of Solar System Formation Evolves. San Antonio - Aug 11, 2003 - The long-held perspective that comets are pristine remnants from the formation of the solar system has evolved from the prevailing views of 30 years ago, finds planetary scientist Dr. S. Alan Stern in a paper published in the journal Nature. See

Headless Comets Survive Plunge Through Sun's Atmosphere.

Rosetta Retasked For 10 Year Trip To Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Sacramento - Jun 11, 2003 - The European Space Agency's ambitious Rosetta mission to rendezvous with and orbit a comet nucleus for the first time -- and then dispatch a small lander onto its surface -- has just survived the most bizarre crisis imaginable. See

Japanese Spacecraft On Four-Year Journey To Bring Home Asteroid Samples. Tokyo (AFP) May 09, 2003 - A Japanese spacecraft blasted off Friday on an ambitious four-and-a-half-year journey to bring asteroid samples back to Earth for the first time. The mid-size solid-fuel M-5 rocket, carrying an unmanned MUSES-C probe, lifted off from the Kagoshima Space Centre in the southern Japanese town of Uchinoura at 1:29 pm (0429 GMT) as scheduled. See

Scientists Get First Close Look At Stardust
For the first time, scientists have identified and analyzed single grains of silicate stardust in the laboratory. This breakthrough, to be reported in the Feb. 27 issue of Science Express, provides a new way to study the history of the universe. See