Solar System

Category archives for Solar System

“Finding out that something you have just discovered is considered all but impossible is one of the joys of science.” -Mike Brown Earlier today, the team of Pluto-killer Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin announced that they had found evidence of a ninth planet in our Solar System beyond the orbit of Pluto, larger and more…

“Just as a Chihuahua is still a dog, these ice dwarfs are still planetary bodies. The misfit becomes the average. The Pluto-like objects are more typical in our solar system than the nearby planets we first knew.” -Alan Stern When New Horizons approached the Pluto system last year, it discovered two vastly different worlds in…

“You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.” -Samuel Beckett In 2012, astronomers announced that the nearest star system to us, the Alpha Centauri system, possessed at least one exoplanet around it. A periodic signal that recurred just every 3.24 days was consistent with an Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting and gravitationally tugging on the second largest…

“It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.” -Harrison Schmitt They say that one of the most exciting phrases to hear in science…

“You are the salt of the earth. But remember that salt is useful when in association, but useless in isolation.” -Israelmore Ayivor When NASA’s Dawn spacecraft began photographing Ceres, one big surprise emerged: the presence of a spectacularly and unusually bright spot at the bottom of Occator crater. As we got closer, we discovered it…

“Mars is much closer to the characteristics of Earth. It has a fall, winter, summer and spring. North Pole, South Pole, mountains and lots of ice. No one is going to live on Venus; no one is going to live on Jupiter.” -Buzz Aldrin When we think about life in the Universe, we think about…

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” –Walt Whitman Every once in a while, the Earth hurtles through the orbital path of a comet or asteroid, with the Sun having torn tiny bits of debris from the parent body. As a result, the Earth strikes these dusty fragments at speeds often exceeding a hundred…

“We’ve learned that the view of four inner rocky planets and four outer gas giants and one misfit Pluto is wrong. Now we understand Pluto’s context.” -Alan Stern After a 9 year journey to Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto this past July, taking so much data that it will…

“Lots of science fiction deals with distant times and places. Intrepid prospectors in the Asteroid Belt. Interstellar epics. Galactic empires. Trips to the remote past or future.” -Edward M. Lerner Of all the asteroids we’ve ever discovered, it’s arguably the very first one, Ceres, that’s got the most to teach us. Currently being mapped at…

“We are not like the social insects. They have only the one way of doing things and they will do it forever, coded for that way. We are coded differently, not just for binary choices, go or no-go. We can go four ways at once, depending on how the air feels: go, no-go, but also…