Bluring the lines – an active asteroid #NASASDawn #Ceres


Asteroids are the left overs, the non-planets, the bits that never quite formed that missing planet between Mars and Jupiter. Because of this, they are small, cold, dead. Except when they is an exception to the rule. And Ceres is that exception

On the same day Pluto was demoted to Dwarf Planets, Ceres got promoted *to* Dwarf Planet. It is clearly and asteroid belt object, but it is much bigger than the other asteroids. So big that it was once alive and (barely) active. In 2015 the NASA Dawn spacecraft imaged a volcano on Ceres. The mystery was that it was the only one on the whole body. As Michael Sori of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, lead author of a new paper accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters states,“Imagine if there was just one volcano on all of Earth. That would be puzzling.”

In this new research Dr Sori posits Viscous relaxation as the solution to this conumdrum. More mysteries, more answers, more knowledge gained about our solar system.

The Ocean Moon #Enceladus


The probability of intelligent life beyond Earth is very high. Its almost certain. But as space is big, the probability of any two intelligent sets of life on different planets communicating is pretty low.

However, simple life forms may be everywhere. Provide 3 things – water, heat and some nutrition – and life seems to get going pretty quick. One of the best spots for these three things may be Enceladus. This moon of Saturn was long considered a dead world. But new data is showing just how alive it might actually be.


This moon just keeps on providing more and more surprises.

Here’s looking at you, from @HiRISE

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes”. That way you get to see things from their perspective. Well, so much more so then when you travel over 100 million miles. Here is us, taken from Mars. Reminds us what we look like, and how fragile we are.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was 127 million miles away from Earth when the picture was taken on November 20 using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona and principal investigator for the HiRISE camera, said “The Moon is much darker than Earth and would barely be visible at the same brightness scale as Earth,” McEwen said. “The combined view retains the correct sizes and positions of the two bodies relative to each other.”

The Search for Planet X #PlanetKiller #PlanetFinder



Pluto is now King of the distant dwarf planets, but are there other larger planets out there?

The six most distant known objects in the solar system with orbits exclusively beyond Neptune (magenta) all mysteriously line up in a single direction. Moreover, when viewed in three-dimensions, they are all tilted nearly identically away from the plane of the solar system. Such an orbital alignment can only be maintained by some outside force. In a new paper, Batygin and Brown show that a planet with 10 times the mass of the earth in a distant eccentric orbit anti-aligned with the other six objects (orange) is required to maintain this configuration.


Halley’s comet, almost #Orionids

If you’re born after 1986 then you’ve never saw it, and we all have to make it until 2061 before you can see it again.. But Halley’s comet is kind-of coming back tonight. Or at least bits of it. Every time it comes near the Sun it leaves bits of itself behind. Particles, Debris, dirt. Every year we run into those bits, like flies on a windscreen. Those bits make up the Orionid’s shooting star storm. And you can see it tonight. Just look up.

Eureka, Europa. Plumes-a-plenty #Europa

From Hubble news center

New findings from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show suspected water plumes erupting from Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. These observations bolster earlier Hubble work suggesting that Europa is venting water vapor.  The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa’s surface. This is exciting because Europa is a plausible place for life to have developed beyond the Earth. If the venting plumes originate in a subsurface ocean, they could act as an elevator to bring deep-sea life above Europa’s surface, where it could be sampled by visiting spacecraft. This offers a convenient way to access the chemistry of that ocean without drilling through miles of ice”

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The universe is playing fair #CosmologicalPrinciple

The cosmological principle states that we’re not in a special place. In essence, the chunk of the universe we see is a fair and unbiased sample of the entire universe. Only if this is true, can we then proceed to claim that things we find out about the universe we can see are actual truths about the entire Universe. It is the bedrock of all scientific knowledge. If true, it leads to two features about the distribution of matter  – stuff should be homogeneous (i.e., uniform) and isotropic (i.e., the same in all directions). Note, our solar system is neither, our galaxy is neither, and even our local cluster of galaxies is neither. But on really large size scales, these two principles are true via observations. New simulations now agree with this. So, you’re not special, and this is a good thing.

Cosmologists show that universe is expanding uniformly

The universe is expanding uniformly according to research led by University College London (UCL) which reports that space isn’t stretching in a preferred direction or spinning. The new research, just published in Physical Review Letters, studied the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which is the remnant radiation from the Big Bang. It shows the universe expands the same way in all directions, supporting the assumptions made in cosmologists’ standard model of the universe.


Not quite a planet, not quite an asteroid #Centaur

Scientific classifications are not usually clean. Usually when we think we have objects classified into groups, along comes a new piece of data that blurs the line. Centaurs are one of these blurring data points. They are the same size and (mostly) the same composition as asteroids. But they exist in a different location, between Jupiter and Neptune, NOT between Jupiter and Mars. And most confusing, they have rings. New research now shows the origins of these rings – turns out these two aspects of strange location and presence of rings are connected! In an orbit so far out from the Sun, they get pulled and pushed by the large planets, breaking them up, and forming the rings.

Add confusing facet number 1 to confusing facet number 2, and both elements of confusion are explained.


Origin of minor planets’ rings revealed


Prepare to feel small and insignificant #CityOfRocks #DarkSkies

Find a weekend, pack a tent, hotdogs and smores, and stay at the City of Rocks, NM. The dark skies in New Mexico are one of our greatest assets . 1 hour from Las Cruces, 30 minutes from Silver City, and you might as well be alone in this universe. Go see the beauty of the Milky Way with your own eyes.