NEW: So­lar Sys­tem Chat­ter

HUN­DREDS OF SATEL­LITES, ALL TALK­ING AT ONCE. HERE’S THE IN­TEL.

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Front Page -

Re­ports from out there

CASSINI IS CHECK­ING OFF its dance card and switch­ing part­ners, mov­ing to an equa­to­rial or­bit around Saturn af­ter two years of study­ing the poles. This path will give the NASA space­craft nine close en­coun­ters with moons Ti­tan, Dione, and Ence­ladus this year. In April, astronomers solved one of the Saturn sys­tem’s mys­ter­ies, con­firm­ing that long icy ten­drils stretch­ing tens of thou­sands of miles in an outer ring orig­i­nate from the gey­sers spew­ing from Ence­ladus (right). The wispy struc­tures ap­pear and dis­ap­pear, astronomers be­lieve, be­cause the gi­ant planet’s grav­ity cre­ates stresses on the moon that change the size of the geyser open­ings.

IN THIS NEW SPACE, WE LIS­TEN TO THE HUN­DREDS OF SPACE­CRAFT trav­el­ing in the so­lar sys­tem right now and telling us about the cos­mos, our neigh­bors, even our own planet. Here you’ll find the juici­est bits of data they’ve sent back: the dis­cov­er­ies, the won­ders, and the prob­ing ques­tions those emis­saries are rais­ing.

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