Here are five things you need to know about our amazing solar system this week:
1. Perpetual Pluto-palooza
The New Horizons spacecraft continues its ongoing download of data and images from the July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. In the latest weekly release, the new images don’t disappoint, showing fine details in an exotic landscape. The New Horizons team has also described a wide range of findings about the dwarf planet’s system in its first science paper. Learn more HERE.
2. Encounter at Enceladus
The Cassini spacecraft has returned the closest images ever showing the north polar region of Saturn’s intriguing ice moon Enceladus. Scientists expected the area to be heavily cratered, but the new high-resolution Cassini images also show a landscape of stark contrasts, crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters. The robotic spacecraft buzzed by the moon during the first of what will be three close encounters this year – the last of the long mission. Next up: on Oct. 28 Cassini will deep dive right through Enceladus’ famous ice geyser plume! Learn more HERE.
3. We’re Giving You the Whole World, Every Day
We have worked with NOAA to launch a new website that shows the full, sunlit side of the Earth on a daily basis. The images come from our camera a million miles away aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Each daily sequence of images shows the Earth as it rotates, revealing the entire planet over the course of a day. Take a look HERE.
4. Going Big at Jupiter
We have large, new maps of Jupiter, thanks to data from the Wide Field Camera 3 on our Hubble Space Telescope. The big images provide a detailed look at how the giant planet’s features change over time. In fact, the maps are just the first in a planned series of yearly portraits of the solar system’s four outer planets. The views come as we prepare for the Juno mission to arrive at Jupiter in little less than a year.
5. Catch a Falling Star
Meteors aren’t really falling stars, just dust and rock from deep space meeting a fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere – but they’re a sight to behold if you can catch a glimpse. The Orionid meteors appear every year around this time, when Earth travels through an area of space littered with debris from Halley’s Comet. This year the peak will occur on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 21, into the morning of Thursday, Oct. 22. Find out how to watch HERE.