Science writer passionate about space exploration and the Moon. Words at The Planetary Society, The Wire Science and more. All articles at


This week in Jatan’s Space.

Hot as ice

Neptune, along with its cousin Uranus, is the least-explored planet in our solar system, having been visited by a spacecraft only once. Yet that one Voyager flyby of this exotic ice giant has turned our understanding of planet formation on its head. Here’s my article for The Planetary Society on why we should send missions to Neptune and its moon Triton.

Why explore Neptune

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Earth compared to Uranus and Neptune. Credits: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Björn Jónsson, Justin Cowart

The Neptune page is part of the resource pages that The Planetary Society is building for people to learn why and how we explore space. Check out the pages on other planets and worlds here.

Your guide to the Solar System…

Clearing misconceptions about the discovery of lunar water by NASA’s SOFIA telescope.

NASA and the Germany space agency’s airborne SOFIA telescope has detected water on the Moon’s surface. There are many misconceptions floating around this discovery so I’ve written an article to clarify the nature of the findings, and what it means for lunar science and exploration.

On the SOFIA discovery of Moon water

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This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in its lunar soil, along with an image of NASA’s airborne SOFIA telescope that found such water. Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter

The story of how NASA and ISRO discovered water on the Moon spans over two decades. I’ve updated my article on the same to include the SOFIA discovery and put it in context.

Discovering water on the Moon

Note that water isn’t the only reason to care about the Moon. If you want a comprehensive summary of why we should explore the Moon and what missions have taught us so far, here’s my flagship article, if there’s even such a thing as a writer’s flagship article. :)

Why explore the Moon

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Learn more about collecting samples from other worlds and what’s next.

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An artist’s impression of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending on asteroid Bennu. Credit: NASA

NASA just had a truck-sized robot, OSIRIS-REx, autonomously sample an asteroidmillions of kilometers away under (literally) rocky circumstances. Is science cool or what! Here’s a bunch of curated links for you to learn more about collecting samples from other worlds.

Why do we even bother sending complex and expensive sample return missions to worlds when spacecraft can just study them using versatile instruments onboard? Jason Davis from The Planetary Society has written a great overview page to answer that.

Why sample return

As for why we study small worlds like asteroids at all, here’s my primer with an overview of learnings from all missions to asteroids, comets and small worlds till date and what’s next. …

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