By any other name: the International Astronomical Union (IAU) -- the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features -- has approved themes submitted by NASA's New Horizons team for naming surface features on Pluto and its moons. Working with the New Horizons team, the IAU has agreed to naming themes for Pluto, its largest moon, Charon, and its four...
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NASA's mission to examine the habitability of Jupiter's ocean-bearing moon Europa is one step closer to the launchpad, with the recent completion of a major review: [ Link ]
Ten things to know about the solar system this week. See more from the 10 Things blog at: [ Link ]

1. Descent into a frozen underworld: our planet's southernmost active volcano reaches 12,448 feet (3,794 meters) above Ross Island in Antarctica. It's a good stand-in for a frozen alien world, the kind NASA wants to send robots to...
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Happy #PresidentsDay! This Lincoln penny is on Mars as a calibration target for NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover.

The image was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard Curiosity in Gale Crater. It's a 1909 cent, from the first year Lincoln pennies were minted, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

"The penny is on the MAHLI calibration target as a tip of the hat to geologists'...
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Stormy weather. See bright high clouds and meandering storms in this new citizen scientist-created JunoCam Jupiter image.

Info: [ Link ]
The NASA Dawn Mission has found evidence for organic material on Ceres, a dwarf planet and the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists using the spacecraft's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) detected the material in and around a northern-hemisphere crater called Ernutet. Organic molecules are interesting to scientists because they are...
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An ice world...with an ocean? How a puzzling sensor reading led to a new target in the search for habitable worlds: [ Link ]
You can help search for new nearby worlds. A new website, called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, lets everyone participate in the search by viewing brief movies made from images captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. The movies highlight objects that have gradually moved across the sky. Details: [ Link ]
The total solar eclipse of 2017 is about six months away. It will be visible in many places all across North America. In this week's 10 Things blog, ten ways you can prepare now: [ Link ]

1. Find your viewing place. Most hotels along the centerline are already booked. Try family, friends, campgrounds, and less-populated places.

2. Zoom around and find your...
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Descent into a frozen underworld: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been testing robotics in an ice cave near an active volcano. It's also a good stand-in for a frozen alien world, the kind NASA wants to send robots to someday. Read more: [ Link ]
Tonight's full moon will be dimmed slightly in what is called a penumbral lunar eclipse. Here are 10 things to know about the full moon, the eclipse and upcoming eclipses: [ Link ]
During nearly two decades in space, Cassini has inspired the people of Earth. It has sent home thousands of images of icy moons and resplendent rings. It helped discover erupting water geysers on Enceladus and seas of methane on Titan. It showed us a view of the Earth as a blue dot. Now, the mission is drawing towards its dramatic conclusion. We'd like to know one thing: how has Cassini...
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At an international workshop this week about where NASA's next Mars rover should land, most of the information comes from a prolific spacecraft that's been orbiting Mars since 2006.
Observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the basis for evaluating eight candidate landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover mission. The landing site workshop this week in Monrovia, California,...
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Jupiter from below. This enhanced-color JunoCam image of the Jovian south pole and its swirling atmosphere was created by citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko.

More info: [ Link ]
A future mission to land a robotic probe on Jupiter's icy moon Europa may be in the cards. Our report on the potential science value of such a mission seeks to engage the broader science community on the merits of such a quest. The primary goal is to search for evidence of life. Get the details: [ Link ]
Ten things to know about the solar system this week. See this week's full 10 Things blog at: [ Link ]

1. NASA's Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter on Thursday, Feb. 2, its latest science orbit of the mission. All of Juno's science instruments and the spacecraft's JunoCam were operating during the flyby to collect data that is now being returned to...
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