There's a little black spot on the sun today.... Venus transits the sun in June - it's a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us. (Bonus song lyric links here and youtube here)
Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
NASA's MESSENGER team (previously: 1, 2, 3), with help from the U.S. Geological Survey, released yesterday the first global map of the planet Mercury. [more inside]
NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially a Stirling engine in reverse) to keep a probe cool on the surface of Venus, which has had a tendency to melt or smash previous probes. The cooler would maintain a 25cm sphere within the probe at 200°C -- 100°C above the boiling point of water but sufficiently cool for a high-temperature microcontroller to operate. The waste heat radiators on the exterior of the sphere would reach the temperature of 500°C, 40°C above the the normal Venusian surface temperature.
At forty miles (64.4 km) from Pluto to Sun, the Maine Solar System Model is the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system in the world. What, you didn't know there was more than one? And yes, Pluto is staying put.
Chasing Venus Transits of Venus occur every 130 years or so when Venus can be observed passing across the face of the sun. Chasing Venus is an online exhibition by Smithsonian Institution Libraries that tells the story of how the transit has been observed since the 17th century, with early observations in England, illustrated accounts of expeditions by 18th century astronomers to various parts of the world, and early uses of photography to record observations in the 19th century. Includes links to animations of transits reconstructed from Victorian photographs, and details of a lecture series on Thursdays in April and May (first one April 8). The first transit since 1882 is this year.
Who owns the moon? Apparently these people do, and they’re selling it off acre by acre. They are “The founders and leaders of the extraterrestrial real estate market.” Do we really need a Galactic Government with an embassy on the moon? I guess The Federation had to start somewhere. This just begs the question, “Does Venus have its own laws?”