MYSTERY MARTIAN MARKINGS: Spring in the southern hemisphere of Mars brings with it mystery. Every year, without fail, strange fan-like markings and dark spots appear on the ice cap at the Martian South Pole and disappear as the red planet's summer wanes. New observations prove the spots cannot just be the ground revealed by thawing ice. Instead, scientists say, they are the result of high-pressure gas geysers that arise when the sun warms layers of dust and sand beneath carbon dioxide frozen during the Martian winter. The warming particles cause the CO2 to explosively change from solid to gas and carry them away to form the unique shapes on the more permanently frozen water ice beneath. A paper detailing the findings appears today in the journal Nature.
God forbid I turn into one of those bloggers who do nothing but link clips from the Colbert Report onto my posts, but this interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson vis-à-vis the status of Pluto’s planet-ness was just too damn funny to pass up, particularly since Colbert is trying so, so hard not to laugh. Enjoy!
Current Music: Upgrade Your Gray Matter – Deltron 3030
-Uranus (the 7th planet) was discovered over a hundred years after Neptune (the 8th planet). It had been sighted many times, but was mistaken for a star. -It is the last planet visable with the naked eye. -It orbits on it's side, like Pluto. (Though, props to Venus for being what I would consider upside down.) -It rotates in retrograde, like Venus and Pluto. -It has 13 rings which are oddly dark, most likely because they're composed of carbon and ice. -It's magnetic field is very strange. Not only is it tilted so that it's closer to the equator than the axis, but it doesn't even run through the center of the planet. Being of a similar make up, Neptune also possesses this strange magnetic field. -It has 27 moons (including Miranda, which has a feature known as Verona Rupes. This is a cliff that is 12 miles high and is known as the tallest cliff in the solar system. To put it in perspective the Grand Canyon is only a mile deep.) -Many of the moons are named after Shakespearean characters instead of mythological characters. There are also a few named after characters created by Alexander Pope. -In H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, Uranus is known as L'gy'hx and is inhabited by cubical metallic many-legged creatures who worship Lrogg whose rituals require a yearly sacrifice in the form of the excising of the legs from a native. (Who doesn't love mythological leg-eating creatures?)
[Edit: Neptune was first observed in 1612, but it wasn't discovered (as a planet) until 1846...meaning that while it was observed before Uranus (1690), Uranus was correctly identified as a planet (1781) before Neptune...meaning that I'm on crack. My bad. Thanks to smailtronic for pointing out my mistake.]
The small moon is spewing water directly into space. This cryovolcanism is likely responsible for Saturn's icy E-ring. Encelandus has the highest albedo of any body in the solar system because it is composed mainly of ice. Scientists are excited about the prospect of life of Enceladus because it possesses liquid water, an atmosphere, and tectonism.
It's recently become a hot topic in the news. But alas, it is not new news.
This is NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. And I was staring at it and thinking...my god, it reminds me of gold panning as a kid. (I grew up in California and I come from a family of miners. My roommate tells me she's never been gold panning...I'm baffled. Whaa?)
I stole this picture from http://earth.esa.int/ You might recognize it as San Francisco (if you stare at maps of California all day like some kind of weirdo (like me)). The European Space Agency snapped this shot last October with the Envisat satellite.
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to probe the ninth planet in our solar system, astronomers have discovered that Pluto may have not one, but three moons.
Pluto was discovered in 1930. The planet resides 3 billion miles from the sun in the heart of the Kuiper Belt, a vast region of icy, rocky bodies beyond Neptune's orbit. In 1978, astronomers discovered Charon, Pluto's only confirmed moon.
"If, as our new Hubble images indicate, Pluto has not one, but two or three moons, it will become the first body in the Kuiper Belt known to have more than one satellite," said Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. He is co-leader of the team that made the discovery.
The candidate moons, provisionally designated S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2, are approximately 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers) away from Pluto--in other words, two to three times as far from Pluto as Charon.
These are tiny moons. Their estimated diameters lie between 40 and 125 miles (64 and 200 kilometers). Charon, for comparison, is about 730 miles (1170 km) wide, while Pluto itself has a diameter of about 1410 miles (2270 km).
The team plans to make follow-up Hubble observations in February to confirm that the newly discovered objects are truly Pluto's moons. Only after confirmation will the International Astronomical Union consider permanent (and catchier) names for S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2.
The Hubble telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys observed the two new candidate moons on May 15, 2005. "The new satellite candidates are roughly 5,000 times fainter than Pluto, but they really stood out in these Hubble images," said Max Mutchler of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the first team member to identify the satellites.
Three days later, Hubble looked at Pluto again. The two objects were still there and appeared to be moving in orbit around Pluto.
"A re-examination of [older] Hubble images taken on June 14, 2002 has essentially confirmed the presence of both P1 and P2 near the predicted locations based on the 2005 Hubble observations," said Marc Buie of Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Ariz., another member of the research team.
The team looked long and hard for other potential moons around Pluto, but they didn't find any.
"These Hubble images represent the most sensitive search yet for objects around Pluto," said team member Andrew Steffl of the Southwest Research Institute, "and it is unlikely that there are any other moons larger than about 10 miles across in the Pluto system," he concludes.
Hi everyone. Way cool community. I love outer space, but I'm no "nerd" & I really came here for some homework help. It's a very interesting question which so far no other community has been able to answer, so any help would be much appreciated!
Okay. My professor the other day was talking about how Ptolemaic theorists (who of course thought the earth was static and that the celestial bodies revolved around it , and not the other way round) were able to calculate the future position of any star. For example, how a person could figure out where x star would be four months from when and where it is observed. No matter how many times I raised my hand, for the life of me it didn't make sense!
I need to learn exactly what the procedure was for calculating the positions of stars according to Ptolemy. All I remember was that my teacher said one first had to locate the North Star and its "degrees to the earth". Second, he said something about counting the degrees the star in question would move eastward. That's really all I could make of it.
Could somebody help, please? Remember, We're talking about how to calculate star positions according to Ptolemaic logic , NOT how it's done today! Thank you!
Are you catching on to the fact that I'm a sucker for Hubble images? This is a nebula found in Orion. The star is V380 Orionis and it is responsible for the illumination of the nebula. The dark area is a Bok globule, which is a dark cloud between the illuminated nebula and the point at which the picture was taken. It's dark because there's nothing nearby to illuminate it.