Project Morpheus NASA CNN Student News

Project Morpheus is a NASA project that began in 2010 to develop a vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) test vehicle called the Morpheus Lander. It is intended to demonstrate a new nontoxic spacecraft propellant system (methane and oxygen) and an autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. The prototype planetary lander is capable of autonomous flight, including vertical takeoff and landings. The vehicles are NASA-designed robotic landers that will be able to land and take off with 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of cargo on the Moon. The prospect is an engine that runs reliably on propellants that are not only cheaper and safer here on Earth, but could also be potentially manufactured on the Moon and Mars. (See: In-situ resource utilization. )

Dr. Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist and leader of the Imaging Science team for Cassini, explained to the press in March 2012 that "More than 90 jets of all sizes near Enceladus's south pole are spraying water vapor, icy particles, and organic compounds all over the place. Cassini has flown several times now through this spray and has tasted it. And we have found that aside from water and organic material, there is salt in the icy particles. The salinity is the same as that of Earth's oceans." What is the difference between a Lunar Eclipse and New Moon? They seem quite similar and there is often confusion between the two. A lunar eclipse happens twice a year whereas a new moon happens once a month. Here is further clarification: Several possibilities could provide an answer as to why the moon would have charcoal-black surface patches, even though it is circling a dwarf planet that is as bright as freshly fallen snow. One theory that has been suggested proposes that, unlike larger objects such as Makemake, its own little companion moon is so small that it cannot gravitationally keep a grip onto a bright and icy crust, which then sublimates, undergoing a sea-change from solid to gas under the melting influence of warming sunlight. This would make the little moon akin to comets and other KBOs, many of which are well-coated with very dark material.