During NASA’s Cassini mission’s final distant encounter with Saturn’s giant moon Titan, the spacecraft captured this view of the enigmatic moon’s north polar landscape of lakes and seas, which are filled with liquid methane and ethane containing organic molecules that likely could possibly, even under such inhospitable conditions, form structures similar to the lipid bilayers of living cells on Earth.
After snagging a new rock sample on Aug. 9, NASA’s Curiosity rover surveyed its surroundings on Mars, producing a 360-degree panorama of its current location on Vera Rubin Ridge under umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm. Curiosity is poised to drive to its scientific end zone: areas enriched in clay and sulfate minerals higher up Mount Sharp. That ascent is planned for early October.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will host a live-streamed Science Chat at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Friday, Sept. 7, during which experts will talk about the role of the agency’s Dawn spacecraft in studying the beginning of our solar system, and the approaching end of its 11-year mission.
As of Aug. 20, NASA’s InSight spacecraft had covered 172 million miles (277 million kilometers) since its launch 107 days ago. In another 98 days, it will travel another 129 million miles (208 million kilometers) and touch down in Mars’ Elysium Planitia region, where it will be the first mission to study the Red Planet’s deep interior. InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
NASA’s Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is “decaying” — meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it — skies might soon clear enough for the solar-powered rover to recharge and attempt to “phone home.”