Up till now, 2015 has been a year of historic, ever bigger revelations regarding some of the Solar System’s “lesser bodies”, with ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft returning breath-taking close-up images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and NASA’s Dawn mission providing stunning views of dwarf planet Ceres in the vast expanses of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The moon as observed in visible light (left), topography (center, where red is high and blue is low), and the GRAIL gravity gradients (right). NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/Goddard Space Flight Center MIT researchers find that a volcanic plume, not an asteroid, likely created the moon’s largest basin. New data obtained by NASA’s GRAIL
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, looks a lot like Earth, except in deepfreeze. It’s got a nitrogen atmosphere, along with lakes and seas, channels sculpted by rivers, and even mudflats and rain clouds. The moon is so much like our planet that it’s a frequent setting for sci-fi: the (spoiler alert) promised land for Tom Cruise’s