Showing posts from March, 2017

Lunar Lava Tubes Could Offer Future Moon Explorers a Safe Haven

Source:   By JoAnna Wendel, Earth & Space Science News (AGU) Excerpt:  Scientists find evidence that a 50-meter-deep pit on the Moon's surface could be a skylight opening to an intact lava tube tens of kilometers long. Lunar colonization isn’t mere science fiction anymore. Billionaires plan to send tourists on once-in-a-lifetime trips, and politicians say that they hope to colonize the Moon in the next few decades. There may even be ways for human colonists to harvest water from ice that may be permanently shadowed in certain caves. But where could a human colony actually live? The Moon has no atmosphere or magnetic field to shield it from solar radiation and micrometeorites that constantly rain onto its surface. That’s no environment for our squishy, earthling bodies. Scientists studying the Moon’s surface may have found the answer: shelter humans in lunar lava tubes. The Moon is covered in huge swaths of ancient basaltic lava flows. Earth’s volcanoes can also erupt simila

New Images of Pan, Saturn's Walnut Moon, in Unprecedented Detail

Source:   By JoAnna Wendel, Earth & Space Science News, EoS (AGU) Excerpt: It’s a flying saucer! No, a celestial empanada! Or space ravioli? Nope—the weird raw images dropped by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory this week feature Saturn’s tiny moon Pan and its equatorial fringe in unprecedented detail. The Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, will crash into Saturn later this year. But its final descent brings the spacecraft closer than ever before to Saturn’s rings and offers scientists a wealth of new research opportunities.This is because the spacecraft has entered its “ring grazing orbits,” Carolyn Porco, leader of the imaging science team for Cassini and current visiting scholar at the University of California in Berkeley, told Eos. ...This close orbit allows the spacecraft to take close-up pictures of moons like Pan, which orbits Saturn at a distance of 134,000 kilometers. The new images of the 35-kilometer-wide moon feature a resolut