Category: luna

Titan: Ligeia Mare and environs Numerous lake…

Titan: Ligeia Mare and environs

Numerous lakes of hydrocarbons and seas are visible: at the top is the prominent body of liquid known as Ligeia Mare; the main centers are in the northernmost part of Kraken Mare and on the island of Mayda Insula; and in the bottom center is a portion of Punga Mare. In the lower right corner, Jingpo Lacus reveals a series of sinuous canals in its lake bed, while Bolsena Lacus appears in the lower left corner.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Ian Regan

Saturn and Titan Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Spa…

Saturn and Titan

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eu…

In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. This sharp image was taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor. The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discovered orange lunar soil. 

Image Credit: Apollo 17 Crew, NASA

Six Moons of Saturn (Titan, Mimas, Tethys, E…

Six Moons of Saturn (Titan, Mimas, Tethys, Enceladus, Dione & Rhea)

Image Credit: Rafael Defavari

Can a Natural Satellite Have Its Own Natural S…

Can a Natural Satellite Have Its Own Natural Satellite?

In all known planetary systems, natural satellites occur in a restricted dynamical phase space: planets orbit stars and moons orbit planets. It is natural to ask, can submoons  orbit moons? If so, why don’t any of the known moons of the Solar System have their own submoons? One possibility is that the formation mechanism of planetmoon systems precludes their formation. Another possibility, is that these bodies are dynamically unstable and are rapidly scoured from their system after formation. Here, we investigate the latter hypothesis. 

What are the requirements for stability of a submoon?  To ensure dynamical stability, the host moon must have a  Hill sphere that is larger than its physical radius as well  as its Roche limit. The submoon must also survive any  long-term dynamical effects such as tidal evolution.

Only large moons on wide-separation  orbits can host long-lived submoons. This is mainly because  massive, distant moons have larger Hill radii that  provide more stable real estate for submoons

The researchers calculated that in the Solar System, 4 natural satellites could have their own natural satellite.

Our Moon, Callisto of Jupiter, and Titan and Iapetus of Saturn.

These satellites are relatively large, are relatively distant from their planets, ie there is a small area around them that could have a natural satellite and that satellite would not be stolen by the planet.

Recalling that this is a theoretical exercise, to date no natural satellite around another natural satellite has been detected. source, article.

On this day in 1846 the astronomer William Las…

On this day in 1846 the astronomer William Lassell discovered the largest moon of Neptune, Triton.

It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, an orbit in the direction opposite to its planet’s rotation. At 2,710 kilometres in diameter, it is the seventh-largest moon in the Solar System. Because of its retrograde orbit and composition similar to Pluto’s, Triton is thought to have been a dwarf planet captured from the Kuiper belt. Triton has a surface of mostly frozen nitrogen, a mostly water-ice crust, an icy mantle and a substantial core of rock and metal. The core makes up two-thirds of its total mass.

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All detailed knowledge of the surface of Triton was acquired from a distance of 40,000 km by the Voyager 2spacecraft during a single encounter in 1989. The 40% of Triton’s surface imaged by Voyager 2 revealed blocky outcrops, ridges, troughs, furrows, hollows, plateaus, icy plains and few craters.

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Triton is geologically active; its surface is young and has relatively few impact craters. Although Triton’s crust is made of various ices, its subsurface processes are similar to those that produce volcanoes and rift valleys on Earth, but with water and ammonia as opposed to liquid rock.

Triton’s entire surface is cut by complex valleys and ridges, probably the result of tectonics and icy volcanism. The vast majority of surface features on Triton are endogenic—the result of internal geological processes rather than external processes such as impacts. Most are volcanic and extrusive in nature, rather than tectonic

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The Voyager 2 probe observed in 1989 a handful of geyser-like eruptions of nitrogen gas and entrained dust from beneath the surface of Triton in plumes up to 8 km high.

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Triton is thus, along with Earth, Io, and Enceladus, one of the few bodies in the Solar System on which active eruptions of some sort have been observed. (source)

 images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ISS 

Full moon over the Italian Alps Image Credit:…

Full moon over the Italian Alps

Image Credit: Stefano De Rosa

Moon, Venus and Mars

Moon, Venus and Mars

Image credit: Tunç Tezel

Crescent Moon and Pleiades

Crescent Moon and Pleiades

Credit: Vincent Jacques 

Earthrise 

Earthrise 

Credit: Apollo 8, NASA