moon io

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Our solar system is a jewel box filled with a glittering variety of beautiful worlds–and not all of them are planets. This week, we present our solar system’s most marvelous moons.

1. Weird Weather: Titan

Saturn’s hazy moon Titan is larger than Mercury, but its size is not the only way it’s like a planet. Titan has a thick atmosphere, complete with its own “water cycle” – except that it’s way too cold on Titan for liquid water. Instead, rains of liquid hydrocarbons like ethane and methane fall onto icy mountains, run into rivers, and gather into great seas. Our Cassini spacecraft mapped the methane seas with radar, and its cameras even caught a glimpse of sunlight reflecting off the seas’ surface. Learn more about Titan: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/science/titan/

2. Icy Giant: Ganymede

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest in the solar system. It’s bigger than Mercury and Pluto, and three-quarters the size of Mars. It’s also the only moon known to have its own magnetic field. Details: solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/ganymede/indepth

3. Retrograde Rebel: Triton

Triton is Neptune’s largest moon, and the only one in the solar system to orbit in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation, a retrograde orbit. It may have been captured from the Kuiper Belt, where Pluto orbits. Despite the frigid temperatures there, Triton has cryovolcanic activity – frozen nitrogen sometimes sublimates directly to gas and erupts from geysers on the surface. More on Triton: solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/triton/indepth

4. Cold Faithful: Enceladus

The most famous geysers in our solar system (outside of those on Earth) belong to Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It’s a small, icy body, but Cassini revealed this world to be one of the solar system’s most scientifically interesting destinations. Geyser-like jets spew water vapor and ice particles from an underground ocean beneath the icy crust of Enceladus. With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist. Get the details: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/science/enceladus/

5. Volcano World: Io

Jupiter’s moon Io is subjected to tremendous gravitational forces that cause its surface to bulge up and down by as much as 330 feet (100 m). The result? Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System, with hundreds of volcanoes, some erupting lava fountains dozens of miles high. More on Io’s volcanoes: solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/io/indepth

6. Yin and Yang Moon: Iapetus

When Giovanni Cassini discovered Iapetus in 1671, he observed that one side of this moon of Saturn was bright and the other dark. He noted that he could only see Iapetus on the west side of Saturn, and correctly concluded that Iapetus had one side much darker than the other side. Why? Three centuries later, the Cassini spacecraft solved the puzzle. Dark, reddish dust in Iapetus’s orbital path is swept up and lands on the leading face of the moon. The dark areas absorb energy and become warmer, while uncontaminated areas remain cooler. Learn more: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2892/cassini-10-years-at-saturn-top-10-discoveries/#nine

7. A Double World: Charon and Pluto

At half the size of Pluto, Charon is the largest of Pluto’s moons and the largest known satellite relative to its parent body. The moon is so big compared to Pluto that Pluto and Charon are sometimes referred to as a double planet system. Charon’s orbit around Pluto takes 6.4 Earth days, and one Pluto rotation (a Pluto day) takes 6.4 Earth days. So from Pluto’s point of view Charon neither rises nor sets, but hovers over the same spot on Pluto’s surface, and the same side of Charon always faces Pluto. Get the details: www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-and-charon-new-horizons-dynamic-duo

8. “Death Star” Moon: Mimas

Saturn’s moon Mimas has one feature that draws more attention than any other: the crater Herschel, which formed in an impact that nearly shattered the little world. Herschel gives Mimas a distinctive look that prompts an oft-repeated joke. But, yes, it’s a moon. More: olarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/mimas

9. Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Just Phobos

In mythology, Mars is a the god of war, so it’s fitting that its two small moons are called Phobos, “fear,” and Deimos, “terror.” Our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught this look at Phobos, which is roughly 17 miles (27 km) wide. In recent years, NASA scientists have come to think that Phobos will be torn apart by its host planet’s gravity. Details: www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/phobos-is-falling-apart

Learn more about Phobos: solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/phobos/indepth

10. The Moon We Know Best

Although decades have passed since astronauts last set foot on its surface, Earth’s moon is far from abandoned. Several robotic missions have continued the exploration. For example, this stunning view of the moon’s famous Tycho crater was captured by our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which continues to map the surface in fine detail today. More: www.lroc.asu.edu/posts/902

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Full Moon and Jupiter sharing a field of view. 

Labeled top to bottom, the tiny pinpricks of light above bright Jupiter are the four Galilean moons; Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io. Callisto, Ganymede, and Io are physically larger than Earth’s Moon, while water world Europa is only slightly smaller. In fact, of the Solar System’s six largest planetary satellites, only Saturn’s moon Titan is missing from the scene.

Image Credit & Copyright: Göran Strand

What’s Up for June 2017?

Have a planet party and compare Saturn and Jupiter! We’ll show you where and when to point your telescope or binoculars to see these planets and their largest moons. 

Meet at midnight to have a planetary party when Jupiter and Saturn are visible at the same time!

The best time will be after midnight on June 17. To see the best details, you’ll need a telescope.

Saturn will be at opposition on June 15, when Saturn, the Earth and the sun are in a straight line.

Opposition provides the best views of Saturn and several of its brightest moons. At the very least, you should be able to see Saturn’s moon Titan, which is larger and brighter than Earth’s moon.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to see Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky this month. Through a telescope, you’ll be able to see the cloud bands on both planets. Saturn’s cloud bands are fainter than those on Jupiter. 

You’ll also have a great view of Saturn’s Cassini Division, discovered by astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1675, namesake of our Cassini spacecraft.

Our Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting the planet since 2004 and is on a trajectory that will ultimately plunge it into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, 2017, bringing the mission to a close. 

Our Juno spacecraft recently completed its sixth Jupiter flyby. Using only binoculars you can observe Jupiter’s 4 Galilean moons - Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa.

To learn about What’s Up in the skies for June 2017, watch the full video:

For more astronomy events, check out NASA’s Night Sky Network at https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

What’s Up for April 2017

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is visible all night long, and the Lyrids meteor shower peaks on April 22.

On April 7, Jupiter–the king of planets–reaches opposition, when it shines brightest and appears largest. 

Jupiter will be almost directly overhead at midnight.

This is also a great time to observe the planet’s Galilean moons–Io, Ganymeade, Europa and Callisto. They can be easily seen through binoculars.

With binoculars, you can even see the Great Red Spot as the storm transits the planet every ten hours.

Looking east on April 22, look to the skies for the Summer Triangle, consisting of Deneb, in Cygnus, the Swan; Altair in Aquila, the Eagle; and Vega, in Lyre(the Harp).

Get ready for the Lyrids, the year’s second major meteor shower, as it pierces the Summer Triangle in the early morning hours of April 22. Since the shower begins close to the new moon, expect excellent almost moonless viewing conditions.  

You can catch up on solar system and all of our missions at www.nasa.gov

Watch the full “What’s Up for April 2017″ video: 

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

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When I was young, couldn’t stand to believe it
Somewhere there was a sun left to shine
Now my heart won’t be still ‘til I’ve seen it
Won’t be still 'til I’ve made it mine 

@io-saar

Destiny 2 Reveal Stream: Notes

Here are my notes from the reveal stream, with some concluding thoughts at the end. All of this information is available from the Bungie reveal stream, and is not speculation unless marked as such:


Story:

In the beginning of Destiny 2, the Last City has fallen. Dominus Ghaul, leader of the Cabal Red Legion, has laid waste to the Tower and to the City itself, and his legions have torn our home apart. 

The reveal trailer shows us fighting through the tower in the first campaign mission, called “Homecoming,” in which we battle alongside the Vanguard until Amanda Holliday deposits us atop some kind of Cabal ship, where we attempt to face down the bad guy.

Unfortunately, we fail, and Dominus Ghaul succeeds in deploying some sort of device that places the Traveler in a cage, instantly draining the Guardians of Light, and causing us to lose our powers. We cannot go back to the Tower.

In response, the Vanguard scatters. Ikora has fled to Io out of anger, Zavala is on Titan healing and having an existential crisis - “Are we Guardians even without the Light?”, and Cayde-6, in attempting to play the hero, has gotten himself into trouble on Nessus. Apparently, the Speaker has disappeared. More on these new worlds below.

In the campaign, we will have to track down and collect the Vanguard, as well as fight the new Red Legion enemy, led by Dominus Ghaul. Dominus Ghaul believes that he, based on his past experiences (which were not elaborated upon), is most worthy of the Traveler’s blessing, and does not understand why Humanity was chosen. He has come to Earth to prove his worthiness, and sees humanity as being in his way. He is not a “psychopath” bent on genocide. Luke Smith described him as “Having his stuff together,” and “Like Alan Rickman in Die Hard.”

Destiny 2 is a game about loss, and transitions into an experience about recovery and reclaiming what is ours.


Classes:

Shown classes remain the same: Hunter, Warlock, and Titan. Nova Bombs, Defender Bubbles, and Golden Guns were shown but not remarked upon. However, new Super abilities were showcased:

  • Titan Sentinel: A Titan with a voidlight shield that can be used to block damage, thrown at enemies, or used in melee combat. There also appeared to be some new kind of Striker Titan Dash and a different sort of ‘Ice Wall,’ neither of which were discussed.
  • Hunter Arcstrider: A Hunter with a staff of arclight that focuses on acrobatic melee combat. 
  • Warlock Dawnblade: A Warlock with a sword made of solar light that can be used in melee combat or to fling ranged attacks. Warlocks also appeared to be able to place some sort of buff zone beneath them, one of which “empowered” the player.

These look pretty awesome.


Weapons:

Weapon loadouts have been revamped to give players more flexibility. Weapons are now divided into three categories:

  • Kinetic
  • Energy
  • Power

New weapons:

A variety of new weapons were shown. In addition to hand cannons, sniper rifles, shotguns, pulse rifles, and shotguns, we saw:

  • A type of SMG
  • Grenade launchers
  • Minigun-like machine guns
  • A type of fast-firing rocket launcher

I assume we will learn more about this in the coming days. It appears that weapons such as hand cannons occupy the kinetic slot, but I would like to see more information about how these slots will work.


Worlds:

Destiny 2 features four playable worlds: 

  • Earth: The European Dead Zone is now the location of Destiny’s largest playable area, and this is the zone where Humanity flees and attempts to rebuild after the Cabal attack. This camp was founded by Hawthorne, who features in the D2 Preorder, and who once left the City to live in the Wilds.
  • Titan: Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is covered with a Methane ocean with 40 ft waves, and features a human utopia, a relic of the Golden Age, sinking into ocean. There is no landmass on Titan.
  • Io: A sulfuric moon of Jupiter, Io is the last place the Traveler touched before it appeared on Earth. Io is a sacred place to the Guardians, and to Warlocks in particular. In the trailer, there appear to be the remnants of some kind of civilization.
  • Nessus: A centaur, or type of icy minor planet. The Vex have transformed Nessus into a machine world, and it now features native vegetation, large canyons, and plateaus based on tepui, a type of South American highland plateau.

Quests

Destiny 2 has revamped the map system. Now, players will be able to use an area map to navigate and discover locations and events. These include:

PatrolsAmbient enoucntersCollectable materialsAdventures*Treasure maps*Public events with treasures*Lost sectors*

*denotes a seemingly new feature

Destiny 2 will emphasize the sense of exploration that players experience. For example, players will be able to discover and unlock secret, hidden dungeons, which will contain both loot and bosses. There appear to be many, many secrets to discover.

Furthermore, there will be more interaction with NPC’s, resulting in numerous side-quests and further adventures.


Map:

Destiny 2 features a revamped map system that players will use to uncover and navigate the new areas. Waypoints, such as those corresponding to the activities listed above, will show up on this map. It will also show WHERE and WHEN public events will take place.

In addition, players will no longer have to ‘go to orbit’ to navigate to new locations. The world navigation system will now be usable from anywhere.


Co-operative:

Co-operative play was heavily emphasized by all presenters. Bungie attempted to strike a balance between easy matchmaking and ensuring that all players are comfortable with the strangers they are matched with. The notable new features are:

  • Clans:
    Clans will no receive official, in-game support. These will offer rosters, tools for fireteam building, custom banners, and shared clan experience and progression. Achievements, whether done solo or in a group, will benefit your clan.

  • Guided Games:
    Guided games are a new way for solo players to find a fireteam without joining a clan and while being able to ensure they have a positive experience. Solo players will be able to see a brief summary of clan information, as well as the activity proposed, and will then be able to join the clan for that single activitiy without committing to the clan. 

    Guided games will open up your party to more players, in case one of your fireteam members must drop out of the activity.

Crucible:

The Crucible has been revamped for 4v4 combat across all game modes. There will also be a new attack/defend mode called “Countdown.” I assume we will learn more in the coming days.


PC Gamers:

In partnership with Blizzard, Destiny 2 for PC will be available exclusively through Blizzard’s Battle.Net.

Other Notes:

  • “More cinematics than ever.”
  • There will be a new raid.
  • There will be new strikes. The strike played at the reveal is called “The Inverted Spire.” You will traverse Red Legion territory to a Vex Stronghold, where you will fight a 3-stage boss.
  • There will be more quests and story missions
  • There may (SPECULATION: ENTIRELY UNCONFIRMED) be new vehicles.
  • There will be “More to do than any game we’ve ever made at Bungie.”

Main takeaways

Community, community, community. Destiny 2 was referred to several times by different people as “A world I want to be in, where I can always find people to play with if I want to.” Bungie appears to be focused on making all of D2′s content accessible to more players. This, to me, is a great thing.

Exploration: the words “Open World” were not used, and from the gameplay demo of “Homecoming,” that mission at least appeared quite linear. That’s not to say the rest of the game will be that way, and if the new map system is any indication, we can look forward to a lot more exploration. 

I, personally, cannot wait to see the new worlds. It seems like Bungie has done a lot of work to make each location feel unique.

Gameplay-wise, it sounds as though Bungie has learned from D1, and is looking for ways to make D2 more engrossing and meaningful for all kinds of players. If the new strikes have harder, more involved boss fights, it sounds as though we can expect more than the bullet-sponge boss fights that dominated D1.

The revamped weapons system also sounds great, and I can’t wait to hear more about it. 

I am unsure about the Crucible being reworked for 4v4. Reference was made to it being “For PvP Players,” although what that means remains to be seen.


And, most importantly: Throwing Knives return.

Destiny 2

General/Miscellaneous 

  • New Cabal Faction and enemies and weaponry.
  • Vex still around; seem to have upgraded their armor/look
  • Weapon slots changed
    • Kinetic slot will be Kinetic weapons. Found where Primaries currently go.
    • Energy slot for the energy (elemental) weapons. Found where Secondaries currently go
    • Power Slot for “Power” weapons. Found where Heavies currently go.
    • Both Kinetic and Enegery weapons can be the same weapon type. You can have TWO Handcannons if you wanted.
  • Grenade Launchers and SMGs confirmed
  • “A pile of new Exotics”
  • Drivable Tanks! Like, actual tanks this time.
  • Sparrows return
  • “Way more to do than any game ever made by Bungie”
  • Emotes make a return! Some are even recognizable from Destiny 1
  • New Strikes!
  • One new Raid
  • In-game Lore confirmed

Story

  • More cinematics that all of Destiny 1 combined.
  • Numerous amounts of story quests and missions
  • The Campaign is called “The Red War”, the first mission is called Homecoming.

Classes

  • New and reworked Subclasses
  • Warlock’s Dawnblade
    • Engulf yourself in flames and reign down fire upon your enemies with a mighty sword
  • Titan’s Sentinel
    • Use the void to form a shield to protect you and your allies or hurl your shield at your enemies
  • Hunter’s Arcstrider
    • Call upon lightning as you acrobatically slice your spear through your enemies. 

Crucible

  • 4v4 across all game modes; rescaled to accommodate this change
    • The reason given: “To improve readability while you’re playing in PvP and to make it both more competitive and also more interesting for players to get into.”
  • New game modes
    • Countdown: An assault-defend type game mode
  • New maps!
  • New HUD shows enemies with supers and Power weapons

Exploring

  • Big improvments
  • Launch any activity without having to leave to orbit
  • Patrols still a thing
  • Treasure maps!
  • Implied to be able to chose a landing zone
  • NPCs out in the wilds!
  • Public Events; some with Heroic difficulties
  • Hidden dungeon-like areas called Lost Sectors
  • New map system! 
  • New locations!
    • Io, moon of Jupiter
    • Titan, moon of Saturn
    • Nessus, named after a consellation
  • European Deadzone confirmed! Twice the size of any location in Destiny 1

Guided Games and Clans

  • Clans are IN Destiny 2!
    • In-game rosters
    • Custom banner
    • Shared reward system
  • Guided Games
    • Essentially an in-game LFG type of feature
    • Matchmake for Raid, Nightfall, and Trials of Osiris
    • Solo players can queue up with a clan that is looking to fill a spot!
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Moons of Jupiter

[top left] Callisto: third largest moon in our solar system

[top right] Io: the dark spot on the center left is the volcano Prometheus

[bottom left] Ganymede: largest moon in our solar system & the only moon we know of to have a magnetic field

[bottom right] Europa: NASA has detected phyllosilicates (clay-ish minerals) on this moon’s ice ladden crust