Solar System

Category archives for Solar System

“Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by  this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten  future seek to deny us our birthright?” -Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri The dream of humanity has long been to identify an inhabited world beyond Earth, to know for certain that…

“Aha! That satellite was scuttled on Enceladus, Saturn’s main dump moon!” -Professor Farnsworth, Futurama When you think about life beyond Earth, you likely think of it occurring on a somewhat Earth-like planet. A rocky world, with either a past or present liquid ocean atop the surface, seems ideal. But that might not even be where life…

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” -Robert Brault When we think of the idea of “Earth’s twin,” we inevitably think of a planet like ours orbiting a star like ours at the same distance and speed. Most planets are not rocky and Earth-sized; most stars are not…

“I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” -Neil Armstrong The full Moon is undoubtedly bright. As viewed from the Earth’s surface, it’s the second brightest object of all, after the Sun, and is more…

“One should not need a teleportation device to decide whether a newly discovered object is a planet.” -Jean-Luc Margot It was a harsh lesson in astronomy for all of us in 2006, when the International Astronomical Union released their official definition of a planet. While the innermost eight planets made the cut, Pluto did not.…

“Mars’ atmosphere is so thin, you do not need a lot of streamlining. By the time the ship is going fast enough for air resistance to matter, it’ll be high enough that there will be practically no air.” -Andy Weir, The Martian, as spoken by Bruce Ng If you had taken a trip to our…

“If we get rid of the moon, women, those menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining.” -Joe Scarborough, misattributing a quote to Arnold Schwarzenegger that was actually spoken by an impersonator Our Moon is pretty unusual as far as the Solar System goes: of all…

Did Mars Once Have Three Moons? (Synopsis)

“The larger inner moons fall back to Mars after about 5 million years due to the tidal pull of the planet, after which the two outer satellites evolve into Phobos- and Deimos-like orbits.” -Pascal Rosenblatt, et al. Compared to the other moons we know of in the Solar System, Mars’s two, Phobos and Deimos, are incredibly difficult to…

“How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them.” -Christiaan Huygens It was quite a surprise when we started discovering all the exoplanets that were out there. While there’s a big…

How flat can a planet be? (Synopsis)

“‘I’ll follow him to the ends of the earth,’ she sobbed. Yes, darling. But the earth doesn’t have any ends.” -Tom Robbins We have some pretty good definitions of what it takes to be a planet, and one part of that definition is that a world needs to be massive enough to pull itself into…