The shores of Titan

The shores of Titan

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Jupiter, as seen from my garden in Sydney. The spacecraft Juno will soon be getting a closer view. Andy Casely

Juno is about to peer under the clouds of Jupiter

You’ve all heard the Planets Suite, right? Seven classical pieces that Gustav Holst used to ‘describe’ each of the known planets. I’ve always found the Jupiter piece a bit odd – the beginning is a little…
Titan’s Ligeia Mare in false color. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell

Discovering the bath scum on Titan

It’s not everyday that you get to discover something new. But when you do it is a rather strange and quite brilliant feeling. You don’t really cry out ‘Eureka’ (there’s usually about a million things going…
The icy mountains of Pluto tower above their surroundings, but would they be any good to ski on? NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

When is Ski season on Pluto?

Just think, this time last year we knew next to nothing about Pluto. It was a fuzzy blob, with even the Hubble Space Telescope struggling to make it out. Fast forward to earlier today where in a press…
Ice Volcanoes on Pluto? NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Frozen cones on Pluto – the first discovery of ice volcanoes?

Ice volcanoes have shaped my life, and until today I didn’t even know if they actually existed. Now, thanks to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, there’s a good chance we’ve found a frozen volcanic cone on…
If you can grow potatoes here, why not on Mars? Helen Maynard-Casely

Can you grow potatoes on Mars?

This is not as odd a question as it sounds, and by next week I reckon a good lot of you will be pondering it. Why? Well the 30th September sees the opening of The Martian in Australia, director Ridley…
Pluto and it’s moons (Charon, Nix and Hydra) scaled next to Australia. NASA/Andy Casely

What flows on Pluto?

It’s now been over a month since the New Horizons spacecraft flew by one of the last unknown outposts of our solar system and although we’ve only just seen a trickle of the data it collected, it has all…
What mysteries lie beneath your icy crust, Europa? NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Europa: attempt no landing here, but a fly-by is fine!

NASA has now formally started to pack its bags for the next big discovery mission, this time heading to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Last month NASA announced the instruments that will fly on this trip and…
Is Venus volcanically active?

The volcanoes of Venus, have we finally seen one erupt?

As our attention is drawn to the far distant parts of our planetary neighbourhood, it is worth reminding ourselves that there’s still much to learn in our local area of the solar system. Although most…
Mars’ lost ocean. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The lost ocean of Mars

I’ve probably lost count of the number of ‘Water On Mars’ and related headlines I’ve read over the years, but this one is worth paying attention to.

Giant methane storms on Uranus

Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system. But, when we picture the seventh planet in our…