Sunday, December 10

Are we alone? NASA to reveal tantalizing discoveries Thursday



An image provided by NASA shows Saturn’s largest moon Titan passing in front of the giant planet in an image made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The natural color view of Saturn and one of it’s moons was made by Cassini’s wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012 and released by NASA on Wednesday Aug. 29, 2012.

NASA on Thursday will unveil its latest discoveries about ocean worlds in our solar system “and the broader search for life beyond Earth.”

The briefing will provide information gleaned from the Cassini spacecraft and Hubble Telescope, NASA says. The agency says the new discoveries will help “inform future ocean world exploration” — including NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s.

Cassini, which has been orbiting Saturn for almost 13 years, is scheduled to plunge into the gap between Saturn and its innermost ring later this month. A few months later, the nuclear-powered craft will puncture Saturn’s top clouds, disintegrate and vaporize, ending 20 years of unprecedented scientific discoveries.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched April 24, 1990, on the space shuttle Discovery and now whirls around the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour.