Did Saturn lay an egg?

Image of Saturn’s tiny egg-shaped moon Methone taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Institute

It might seem that way in this new photo released on November 5, 2012, taken by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft, but this is actually the tiny moon Methone. The oblong shape and smooth surface make Methone look more like a huge egg than a moon.

Read More…

Curiosity rover takes stunning new self-portrait

New high-resolution self-portrait of Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems

While being busy examining the Martian rocks, soil and atmosphere, the Curiosity rover can also be like a tourist, taking lots of photos of the beautiful, alien landscape around it. Tourists often like to take pictures of themselves, posing with various monuments or with a scenic background.

Read More…

Curiosity rover raises questions about methane on Mars

Graph showing abundances of gases in the Martian atmosphere at Gale crater.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SAM / GSFC

In a much-anticipated news briefing today, scientists with the Curiosity rover mission provided an update on studies done so far about the Martian atmosphere. The biggest question on many people’s mind was, “has Curiosity detected methane yet?” On Earth, about 95% of the methane in the atmosphere is produced by microbes and most of the rest by active geology.

Read More…

Curiosity finds similarities between soil of Mars and soil of Hawaii

The first X-ray view of Martian soil, taken by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on Curiosity. The mineralogy is similar to volcanic soil in Hawaii. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Ames

When one thinks about Mars, probably the last thing that comes to mind is a tropical paradise. Mars is just the opposite – cold, dry and barren. But as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” It turns out that in some ways, Mars actually does have some things in common with the warm, sandy climes of Earth, according to new results released yesterday in a Curiosity rover press briefing.

Read More…