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A service for airline industry professionals · Thursday, May 30, 2024 · 715,818,828 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

Scratching the surface

Solar System

The key to Pluto’s heart may also dash hopes of a subsurface ocean. The giant heart-shaped feature on Pluto’s surface has been a mystery since it was first observed by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. But an international team of astrophysicists has used simulations to reproduce the feature, attributing it to a giant and slow oblique-angle impact in Pluto’s early history. The team's findings also suggest that there is no ocean under Pluto’s icy surface. Pictured: Pluto in enhanced color, based on images collected by New Horizons. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.


NASA has confirmed the Dragonfly mission to Titan. The rotorcraft has been approved to progress to the completion of its final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science instruments. Dragonfly is targeted to arrive at Saturn’s moon Titan as soon as 2034.


NASA has made a plea for suggestions to save Mars Sample Return. This week the agency announced that its current architecture for returning samples from Mars is untenable with its current budget. In an unprecedented move, NASA issued a call to industry, JPL, and NASA centers for new ideas on how to get the samples now being collected by the Perseverance rover back to Earth in an affordable, timely manner. The Planetary Society released a statement in response to the updated plan.


ESA is reviving ExoMars. This week, the European Space Agency awarded a contract to a consortium of companies to resume work on the ExoMars mission, including the Rosalind Franklin rover. The overall ExoMars mission was derailed in 2022 when cooperation with the Russian space agency Roscosmos was suspended because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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