NASA announces its next mission “Dragonfly” – will explore Saturn’s moon Titan with a drone-like lander.

As part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, they have selected their next mission – a drone-like lander that will explore the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. The Dragonfly mission will send a dual-quadcopter to the surface of Titan. About every 16 days it will fly tens of miles above the surface for about an hour before stopping to rest and recharge. During these “hops”, Dragonfly will sample the moon’s surface material and observe its weather patterns. The Huygens probe (carried by Cassini) was the first to give us a good view of the moon’s surface. It was found that Titan had a thick atmosphere and liquid methane coverings its surface. This interested NASA scientists who have been longing to send a lander to the moon to better

NASA plans to explorer the moons of Saturn with… a submarine?

Titan, one of Saturn’s 60 something moons, is covered with lakes and seas of liquid methane which means landing a spaceship on Titan would be quite difficult. But landing a spaceship *under* the methane seas of Titan… well, that’s an entirely new set of problems – and NASA intends to figure out how to do it. To explore Titan’s undersea world, NASA proposes development of a submersible autonomous vehicle – in other words, a remote-controlled submarine.  By 2040, they would like to send this submarine to Titan’s largest northern sea, Kraken Mare, which is comparable in size to the Great Lakes in the United States. The submarine will investigate Titan’s ocean to discover and determine its chemical composition, how its currents flow, and what the seabed

Oh how cute! Saturn just made an itty-biddy baby moon (named “Peggy”)

Saturn has more than 60 moons and researchers said yesterday that they think they may have captured a photo of Saturn giving birth to another itty-biddy moon (which they named "Peggy"). NASA’s Cassini space probe took the picture in April 2013 which shows a bright arc about 750 miles wide at the edge of Saturn’s outermost ring (see bottom left-hand side of picture above). Scientists think the arc and strange bumps located near it were probably created by the gravity of a small, icy object – possibly a newborn moon. Scientists think that most of Saturn’s moons are made of ice that broke out of Saturn’s rings (which are also made mostly of water ice) when the rings were much, much bigger.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provides evidence of an ocean of water underneath Saturn’s moon

Scientists had long thought that Saturn’s moon Enceladus had an ocean of liquid water underneath its thick, icy surface (in 2004, NASA scientists saw water vapor and ice spewing from vents near the moon’s south pole). Today. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed actual evidence that their theory was correct – an ocean lies hidden inside the moon. NASA scientists discovered the evidence by deducing gravity variations using the Doppler Effect (the same principle used in our earthly radar systems). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained: “As the spacecraft flies by Enceladus, its velocity is perturbed by an amount that depends on variations in the gravity field that we’re trying to measure. We see the change in velocity as a change in radio frequency, received at our ground stations here

Saturn – the greatest planet (except for Uranus which is easier to work into jokes)

Saturn is Reeko’s favorite planet (although Uranus, which makes great joke material, comes in a close 2nd).  Like Jupiter, Saturn is a large, gaseous planet composed mostly of the gases hydrogen and helium. Saturn has a magnetic field 1,000 times stronger than Earth's but not as strong as Jupiter's. Due to its gaseous nature, Saturn's density is so low that it could float in an ocean of water. It probably has a core similar to that of Jupiter. It is covered with cloud bands, some forming cyclonic patterns like Jupiter's, but the colors appear more subdued than do Jupiter's because of an atmospheric haze that covers the clouds. Saturn is surrounded by a spectacular ring system (see the picture above). Galileo observed these rings in 1610,