26 – Juno’s Arrival

NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally arrived at Jupiter earlier this week after nearly 5 years of travel! Juno’s mission will be to collect and send back loads of data about our biggest planet in the next 20 months.

Jupiter’s Galilean moons won’t be in focus for this mission, but Europa knows how popular she is. The Galileo mission of the 90s revealed a lot about Europa leading scientists to believe that life could possibly thrive in the oceans beneath its icy surface. As a result, Europa is in big focus on future missions.

25 – Fly By

Asteroids are whizzing by us quite often. Many of them come closer to us than our own moon! This should be pretty alarming! We’ve been hit by asteroids before and we’ll be hit by them again. The question is, will we be prepared when the time comes? Funding for the research and development of anti-asteroid/comet technology is extremely important! No matter what you believe about what we need fixed here on the surface of our precious planet, none of that matters if we allow an asteroid come and wipe us all out!

23 – Planet X

The theory of a large planet lurking somewhere far past Neptune has been around for a while. But just recently scientists have found some real evidence for its existence. They say there are objects in the Kuiper Belt that wouldn’t move they way they do if that planet was not there. The alleged planet is so far away that we can’t see it from here, so who knows how long it will be until we can capture a picture of it, assuming it even exists!

Real or not, how do you think Pluto feels about everyone already calling this mysterious object a planet? 😉

22 – New Horizons

NASA’s New Horizons craft has been travelling for 9 years and will be arriving tomorrow (7/14/15) at Pluto! NH will just be doing a fly by before it heads further out into the Kuiper Belt. Int he mean time, we have been getting some WONDERFUL shots of Pluto, and finally figuring out he has a bit of a reddish color (previously I colored him purple in the comic. That’s changed now).

This is super exciting and I hope you are all watching New Horizons as closely as I am!

21 – Super Jupiter

We have a lot to thank Jupiter for. Our biggest planet is not just pretty to look at, it stands in the way of a lot of possible threats to us. Jupiter’s mass creates a gravitational pull strong enough to fling comets and other objects back out of the solar system and away from us.

One of example of this was back in 1994 when Jupiter took the brunt of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which got caught in its orbit.

But don’t give Jupiter all the praise just yet. That same gravity that saves us could also, one day, turn a comet or asteroid towards us.

But for now, let’s just thank our stars that Jupiter is out there protecting us!

(Or, if you’re in a destructive mood and want to see how Jupiter could possibly destroy us all someday, you can go read this: Could Jupiter Wreck the Solar System?

20 – Saturn’s Hex

The vortex at Saturn’s north pole is oddly hexagon shaped. As it tursn out, the shape comes from smaller vortices at the edges. Scientists have been able to create these hexagon shapes in labs creating currents similar to those on Saturn. You can watch a video of that HERE.

We only recently started getting the best views of this when Saturn finally hit the portion of its orbit where the sun hits its north pole, and Cassini was there to catch it! We’re learning more about how this strange storm acts as Saturn’s northern hemisphere reaches it’s Summer solstice.

18 – Uranus’ Tilt

Uranus is the only planet in our solar system who appears to be rolling on his side around the sun. Scientists believe that soon after Uranus’ formation, the planet was knocked sidewise by a collision with one or more large celestial bodies. If you were knocked in the head like that you might be a little “off” too!

You can read more about Uranus from NASA right HERE!