Spaceflight Insider

News Archive / Tagged: Solar System

  • Pluto may once have harbored liquid nitrogen lakes

    Laurel KornfeldMarch 29th, 2016

    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has returned images of branching channels and a feature that appears to be a frozen lake suggesting that liquids may have once flowed on the surface of a much 'warmer' Pluto millions or billions of years ago when it had a higher atmospheric pressure than now.

  • Science articles discuss wonders, complexity of Pluto system

    Laurel KornfeldMarch 22nd, 2016

    Five articles published in the March 18 issue of the journal Science present a comprehensive view of the Pluto system based on all data sent back by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over the last eight months.

  • “Bite mark” on Pluto’s surface likely caused by sublimation

    Laurel KornfeldMarch 15th, 2016

    An odd feature on Pluto's western hemisphere eerily resembling a bite mark is missing the surface methane characteristic of surrounding terrain, according to compositional images created from those taken by New Horizons' Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument.

  • Geological map of Pluto’s surface allows scientists to trace its history

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 15th, 2016

    NASA's New Horizons mission scientists have created a geological map of Pluto's surface that provides key insights into its varied terrains and how they formed and evolved over time.

  • New Horizons could help us locate possible planets beyond Neptune

    Tomasz NowakowskiFebruary 10th, 2016

    The recent discovery of evidence of a giant planet lurking in the outskirts of the Solar System made by Caltech astronomers has re-ignited the discussion about the existence of planets beyond Neptune. We could be really on the verge of confirming the presence of a hypothetical ‘Planet Nine’ and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, our messenger to Pluto and trans-Neptunian objects might have the final word in this debate.

  • New infrared images reveal Pluto’s water ice, blue atmosphere

    Laurel KornfeldFebruary 1st, 2016

    Infrared images taken by New Horizons' Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument released this week show plentiful water ice on Pluto's surface as well as new details of its otherworldly, layered blue atmosphere.

  • Animation shows Ceres’ colors, terrains, 215 years after discovery

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 31st, 2016

    Using images taken by the Dawn spacecraft, members of the mission's framing camera team created an animation simulating the various features and terrains that a viewer would see if he or she actually had the opportunity to fly over Ceres.

  • Curiosity’s study of Martian sands halted due to anomaly

    Jim SharkeyJanuary 29th, 2016

    As NASA's Curiosity rover studies an active sand dune, it is adding some sample-handling procedures not previously used on Mars. Sand from the second and third that the rover is scooping from "Namib Dune" will be sorted by grain size using two sieves, employing its coarser sieve for the first time.

  • Scientists find evidence of ‘Planet Nine’

    Jim SharkeyJanuary 22nd, 2016

    Two scientists from Caltech have discovered evidence of a giant planet with a bizarre, elongated orbit in the outer Solar System. The object, dubbed "Planet Nine" by the scientists, has a mass of about 10 times that of Earth and orbits the Sun at an average distance of approximately 20 times farther away than does Neptune; it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make one orbit around the Sun.

  • On anniversary of launch, New Horizons returns hi-res images of Pluto’s haze, possible cryovolcano

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 19th, 2016

    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the highest resolution images yet of Pluto's layered blue atmospheric haze and of a large mountain suspected by scientists to be a cryovolcano.

  • Closest Dawn images reveal detailed craters, terrains

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 16th, 2016

    Orbiting just 240 miles (385 km) above the surface of Ceres, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured detailed images of the dwarf planet's craters and various terrains. Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres, reveals many fascinating attributes at the high image resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel.

  • New high-resolution images show ice flow on Pluto’s surface

    Laurel KornfeldJanuary 9th, 2016

    The first images released in 2016 of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons mission team show the direction of flowing ice on the dwarf planet's surface, along with terrain patterns that suggest thermal convection is taking place on the icy surface of the area known as Sputnik Planum.

  • New Horizons’ images, animation show Pluto’s surface in stunning detail

    Laurel KornfeldDecember 6th, 2015

    More than four months after its July 14 encounter with Pluto, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the highest resolution images of the small world's surface featuring layered craters, icy plains, rugged badlands, cliffs, canyons, water ice crust, and icy mountains.

  • Image montages show one full day on Pluto and Charon

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 22nd, 2015

    The team working on NASA's New Horizons mission has released the best images to date of each side of the distant worlds Pluto and Charon taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. The images have been compiled together to illustrate one full day on each of the two icy bodies and come more than four months after the nuclear-powered probe conducted its flyby of the Plutonian system.

  • Geologically active Pluto may have ice volcanoes, subsurface ammonia

    Laurel KornfeldNovember 11th, 2015

    Pluto’s surface may harbor ice volcanoes, and its geological activity could be driven by a subsurface layer of ammonia and water ice, members of the New Horizons team reported at the 47th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, held this week in National Harbor, Maryland.