What are those weird dark streaks on Venus? NASA CubeSat mission could find out

The unusual dark streaks in Venus’ upper atmosphere, seen only in ultraviolet light. Image Credit: NASA

Even though Venus is Earth’s closest planetary neighbour, it is still one of the most mysterious. Numerous landers and orbiters have visited this extremely hostile world, but there are still many unanswered questions to be resolved. Now, NASA is proposing a new mission using a small CubeSat, called CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE), to further study Venus’ atmosphere and hopefully solve at least one of the more perplexing mysteries.

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Image Gallery: Sweeping view across Saturn’s rings

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill

This is actually from 2009, but was just posted again on Facebook and is a stunning view across Saturn’s rings as seen by the Cassini spacecraft. The level of detail is incredible as the rings are illuminated edge-on during that year’s equinox. Cassini is getting very close-up views of the rings again now as it completes its final few orbits before the mission ends on September 15. Image processing by Kevin M. Gill. Larger versions here.

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Cassini prepares for one last look at Titan before spectacular end of mission

Two views of Titan from Cassini, using the narrow-angle camera on March 21, 2017, revealing bright methane clouds in the thick, opaque nitrogen atmosphere, and dark dunes, lakes and seas on the surface. Natural color on left, false color on right. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

There are now less than five orbits left in the Grand Finale until Cassini’s awe-inspiring mission at Saturn comes to an end. With each remaining orbit, Cassini comes closer to plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, never to be heard from again. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, assists the spacecraft during this phase of the mission, nudging on it with its gravity to keep Cassini in the right orbits for when it dives between the innermost rings and the planet itself. And now those final moments are almost here.

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Blog update: new email updates service

I have also just updated the email updates for the blog, using MailChimp. Cleaner format, and you can also now subscribe from below the content of a blog post, in the sidebar or through an occasional pop-up. All current subscribers have been transferred to the new format already, so you don’t need to do anything. For this post, you might get both the old one and the new one today. If you do happen to get a copy of the old email as well still (for posts after this one), then you can just unsubscribe from that one. If you don’t get the new one, check your junk email folder and add my email address to your contacts (paulscottanderson@mac.com). With this, the emails are setup to go out at the same time each day, but only on days when there is a new blog post (this post serves as a first test, for 7:00 PM PT). There is also the ability to send emails other than just blog posts, if needed and other options. Thanks!

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Ancient waterworld? New evidence that Venus may have once had oceans

The surface of Venus, as seen by Magellan spacecraft radar through the thick cloud cover, is a hellish inferno. But long ago, the planet may have had oceans like Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Venus is one of the most inhospitable places in the solar system where the temperature at the surface can melt lead and the atmospheric pressure is crushing. It is not a world where scientists expect to ever find life, but the evidence continues to grow that it may not have always been that way. As recently as several hundred million years ago (in geological terms), Venus may have had oceans, according to new research. What is now a searing hot hellhole was perhaps once very wet, and, just possibly, had conditions suitable for life.

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