Visit the USGS Home Page Go to the Astrogeology Research Program Home Page USGS Astrogeology Research Program

NASA's Next Mars Lander Heads for Florida

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

phoenix  lander
Artist's concept of Phoenix lander. Image credit: NASA/JPL
A U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft carried NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander spacecraft Monday, May 7, from Colorado to Florida, where Phoenix will start a much longer trip in August.

After launch, Phoenix will land on a Martian arctic plain next spring. It will use a robotic digging arm and other instruments to determine whether the soil environment just beneath the surface could have been a favorable habitat for microbial life. Studies from orbit suggest that within arm's reach of the surface, the soil holds frozen water.


More: NASA Mission News - NASA's Next Mars Spacecraft Crosses the Mississippi


Cassini searching for seas on Titan

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cassini to Confirm if 'Caspian Sea' is Liquid-Filled

For Cassini's next flyby of Titan on May 12, 2007, the radar instrument was originally pointing north of where it is now pointed. Due to the discovery of probable large seas on Titan, Cassini's quick-thinking team repointed the radar instrument south, so it could fly over a large, expansive dark area dubbed the "Caspian Sea." This flyby will confirm whether it is liquid-filled. This area on Titan's north pole stretches 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and is only slightly smaller than Earth's Caspian Sea.

The presence of seas on Titan reinforces the idea that Titan's surface must be re-supplying methane to its atmosphere.

More: NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission - Titan Flyby, May 12, 2007

Fantastic images of Jupiter captured by New Horizons

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

jupiter
This amazing color portrait of Jupiter’s “Little Red Spot” (LRS) combines high-resolution images from the New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

May 1, 2007, NASA released stunning new images of Jupiter and its moons taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. Views include a movie of a volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io; a nighttime shot of auroras and lava on Io; a color photo of the "Little Red Spot" churning in Jupiter's cloudtops; images of small moons herding dust and boulders through Jupiter's faint rings--and much more!


More: Science@NASA - Fantastic Flyby

More: New Horizons Mission Gallery