Isostasy, gravity, and the Moon! Last week the GRAIL lunar gravity mission published their first scientific results, and what they have found will send many geophysicists back to the drawing board to explain how the Moon formed and why it looks the way it does now.
Saturn’s cloudy moon Titan has a middle atmosphere containing organic compounds that could hold the potential for life. Now, a new look at that atmospheric layer by a NASA spacecraft shows that it may be on the move, scientists say.
Image:This night-side photo of Titan taken by the Cassini spacecraft shows a buildup of haze over the Saturn moon’s south pole (bottom). New results from Cassini’s infrared spectrometer show that air is now sinking at the south pole, leading to increased temperatures at high altitude and a large enrichment in trace gases. Image released Nov. 28, 2012.Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
New measurements from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn show that the seasonal movement of the trace atmospheric gases on Titan rises to higher altitudes than expected, researchers said.
Because of Titan’s seasonal orientation, the winter poles always point away from Earth, hiding on the moon’s dark side. Studying the complex trace gases in the visible summer hemisphere doesn’t solve the problem; water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere obscures the measurements of the trace gases.
This month’s New Moon brought a total solar eclipse to parts of planet Earth on November 13 (UT). Most of the total eclipse track fell across the southern Pacific, but the Moon’s dark umbral shadow began its journey in northern Australia on Wednesday morning, local time.