“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole. [...] The hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth.
“NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the “habitable zone,” the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“A new study tracks the “rain” of charged water particles into the atmosphere of Saturn and finds there is more of it and it falls across larger areas of the planet than previously thought.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“This image shows the first holes into rock drilled by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, with drill tailings around the holes plus piles of powdered rock collected from the deeper hole and later discarded after other portions of the sample had been delivered to analytical instruments inside the rover.”
“Life as we know it needs liquid water, elements like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, and it needs some form of chemical or light energy to get the business of life done. [...] Europa has the liquid water and elements, and we think that compounds like peroxide might be an important part of the energy requirement. The availability of oxidants like peroxide on Earth was a critical part of the rise of complex, multicellular life.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Ever since planets have been observed through telescopes Mars has been considered to be the best candidate for life beyond earth. Now some researchers believe that Jupiter’s moon Europa is the most promising place to easily find evidence of extraterrestrial life.
“A pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to the sun. [...] The duo is the closest star system discovered since 1916. [..] They are very cool and dim, resembling a giant planet like Jupiter more than a bright star like the sun.” Quoted from the Penn State press release.
“An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life — in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“If you could lick the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath. [...] Salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa’s frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“Peering over the shoulder of giant Saturn, through its rings, and across interplanetary space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spies the bright, cloudy terrestrial planet, Venus. The vast distance from Saturn means that Venus only shows up as a white dot.” Quoted from the NASA image release.
“Scientists at MIT have proposed that Mercury may have harbored a large, roiling ocean of magma very early in its history, shortly after its formation about 4.5 billion years ago.” Quoted from the MIT press release.
“NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“A star thought to have passed the age at which it can form planets may, in fact, be creating new worlds. The disk of material surrounding the surprising star called TW Hydrae may be massive enough to make even more planets than we have in our own solar system.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“In a new paper that provides the most detail yet about the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA’s Cassini mission describe how the massive storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out. It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself in this way anywhere in the solar system.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“These false-color images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft chronicle a day in the life of a huge storm that developed from a small spot that appeared 12 weeks earlier in Saturn’s northern mid-latitudes.” Quoted from the NASA image release.
“This map of Jupiter is the most detailed global color map of the planet ever produced. The round map is a polar stereographic projection that shows the south pole in the center of the map and the equator at the edge. It was constructed from images taken by Cassini on Dec. 11 and 12, 2000.” Quoted from the NASA image release. Be sure to view the full-size image.
“A new paper by scientists on NASA’s Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn’s moon Titan. The presence of ice floes might explain some of the mixed readings Cassini has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes on Titan.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
“NASA’s Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun’s “habitable zone,” the region in the planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.”
A newly-discovered comet approaching the sun might be visible from earth twice in 2013. It might be seen with the naked eye in March as it passes by Earth en route to the sun. A spectacular tail could be visible in October/November as it approaches the sun and its ice begins to vaporize. More information from NASA.