There's an odd bright spot on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scratch that, there's actually two bright spots on the its surface. Cue speculation as the Dawn spacecraft prepares to orbit Ceres.
So if you had been reading about all this 200 years ago, there would have been at least two important differences from now. One is that your Internet connection would have been considerably slower. The other is that you might have learned in school or elsewhere that Ceres was a planet.As the Dawn probe is only months away from reaching Ceres, chief engineer and mission director Marc Rayman provides a brief history of the discovery and study of Ceres. Bonus: The maths behind the discovery of Ceres
I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability.[more inside]
I totally overlooked The American Astronaut (2001) and perhaps others did too? Musician and indie filmmaker Cory McAbee has a history as a huge misshapen head, has been to Reno, been a lounge act for the seedier offworld colonies, been smuggling illegal female embryos for the Jovian mining concerns, & been a father. [more inside]
When I grow up I want to be an environmental engineer. I want to work on projects that can provide potable water for people. I want to clean the polluted Mother Ganga [Ganges] who provides life giving water from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Or the Nile, both blue and white, spilling fertility from her bunds on a regular cycle. I want to design products that use the least amount of energy and fuel, from recycled materials and are biodegradable. I want to seek alternative sources of energy, such as using biofuel to power cellphones. I want to design with maximum constraints. Call her mother earth, gaia, demeter, ceres or inanna, our planet is on the brink of no return. Or is it all just a matter of perspective?
Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. Xena) may join the 9 planets we already know (and strive to remember) if a resolution by the International Astronomical Union is passed next week. So what makes a planet, according to the IAU? Having sufficient mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. be round enough...welcome former asteroid Ceres) and being in orbit around a star without being a star itself or a satellite of another planet (apparently Charon and Pluto are actually a double planet.) Mike Brown, discoverer of "10th planet" Sedna and alleged "Pluto-hater", doesn't really like the idea.