Cosmic Rays Constantly Pummel Our Moon

According to scientists cosmic rays from beyond our solar system constantly pummel Earth’s moon, fundamentally changing the chemistry and color of the lunar ice and dirt. New measurements of the strength of this space radiation from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show that these cosmic rays can cause significant chemical alteration on the surface of the moon. The measurements also help scientists test theoretical models of the moon’s radiation environment.

Plausible Explanation for the Pileups of Giant Planets

Some zones encircling baby stars are far more popular than others, drawing crowds of giant planets while the other potential paths for orbits remain empty. Now computer simulations have revealed a plausible explanation of this phenomenon. Rather than occupying orbits at regular distances from a star, giant gas planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn appear to prefer to occupy certain regions in mature solar systems while staying clear of others.

NASA Visualization Explorer New Opportunities for iPad

The NASA Visualization Explorer is now delivering new opportunities to explore NASA’s research of the sun, planetary bodies, Earth and the universe to your iPad. Since July 2011, the Visualization Explorer iPad app, NASA Viz for short, has delivered two stories each week with a strong focus on Earth science. That two story per week schedule will continue, but now with stories that cover the breadth of the agency’s science mission and continue to highlight NASA’s artful data visualization. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is organized into four disciplines: Heliophysics, Planetary, Astrophysics and Earth science.

Mystery of Saturn’s Two-Faced Moon

Iapetus’ bizarre two-toned appearance, with one dark side and one bright side, has puzzled astronomers since the moon was first discovered by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1671. To better understand how this oddball Saturn moon formed and evolved, researchers are now studying the temperature variation across Iapetus’ differing surfaces by measuring the moon’s microwave emissions. Previous studies using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggest that migrating ice makes half of Iapetus reflective and bright, while the other side is cloaked in dust and darkness.

Cassini Took a New Images of Saturn Moon Rhea

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took this raw, unprocessed image of Saturn’s moon Rhea on March 10, 2012. Rhea is the second-largest moon of Saturn and the ninth largest moon in the Solar System. It was discovered in 1672 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Saturn’s second largest moon Rhea is an icy body with a density of about 1.236 g/cm3. Rhea is named after the Titan Rhea of Greek mythology, “mother of the gods”.

Twin GRAIL Spacecraft Start Collecting Lunar Science Data

As reported Nasa Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) orbiting the moon officially have begun their science collection phase. During the next 84 days, scientists will obtain a high-resolution map of the lunar gravitational field to learn about the moon’s internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail. The data also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

Cassini Snapped New Photo Rings of Saturn

In new photo, snapped by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on January 5, 2012, Saturn’s rings cast shadows on the huge planet. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is visible just below the rings, in the upper right of the picture. Just above the rings sits the tiny moon Prometheus, barely visible as a tiny white speck. At 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers) in diameter, Titan is nearly 50 percent wider than Earth’s moon. The only moon in our solar system larger than Titan is Ganymede, which orbits Jupiter.

Researchers Study Explosions on Venus

A new study finds strange, gigantic explosions fueled by solar energy detonate just above the surface of Venus.The huge eruptions, known as hot flow anomalies (HFAs), have been seen before near Earth, Saturn and possibly Mars. According to researchers the new observation is the first unambiguous confirmation of the phenomenon on Venus. It also shows that HFAs there are far different than what happens near our planet, which has a strong magnetic field.

Asteroids Smacked Moon Stronger During Period Lunar Cataclysm

A team of researchers from the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., tracked the history of crater formation on the moon using digital maps, and found evidence of a dramatic shift in the velocity and energy of the asteroid bombardment during a period called the “lunar cataclysm” that occurred 4 billion years ago. According to researchers the timing of this shift could coincide with disturbances in the solar system’s main asteroid belt caused by changes in the movement of the outer planets.

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