Seasonal dark streaks in Newton Crater on Mars (Source: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA)

Mars & Planetary Habitability at EPSC 2012

Wednesday at the European Planetary Science Congress saw the oral presentations of the Mars sessions, plus I caught a couple on planetary habitability. Turns out Mars scientists edge out those on Mercury in the style stakes – one Italian researcher…

Callisto as seen by Voyager II. Bright areas are the most recent impact craters, but the majority is dark due to rock mixed with the ice. (Source: NASA)

Callisto – Ancient World

A journey past the major (Galilean) moons of Jupiter from the inside out is also a journey from intense activity to virtual quiescence, and from full internal differentiation into metal, rock and volatiles to a much more homogeneous mix. So…

Ganymede gobal natural colour image (Source: NASA)

Ganymede – ice giant

Ganymede is next out from Jupiter after Europa and it’s an icy behemoth: larger than any other moon in the Solar System, larger even than Mercury.  ESA are gearing up to send JUICE (the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) out to the…

Global View of Europa - natural colour (Source: NASA)

Europa – what lies beneath

Travel one moon further out from Io and you’ll go from fire to ice: Europa.  All of the moons of the Solar System beyond Io are icy, but Europa is special: its frozen layer may be comparatively thin, and beneath…

False color infrared composite of Io, using Galileo data (Source: NASA)

Io – Shrouded in sulphur

If you’ve never seen or heard about Io, you’re in for a treat: this small moon is afire with volcanism, spewing out lava, dust and sulphurous gas pretty much constantly. When the Galileo spacecraft visited it between 1999 and 2002, it…