Archive for the ‘Pluto’ Tag

New Year 2019 Flyby – Ultima Thule!   19 comments

New Horizons – Ultima Thule Flyby! Making history in New Year 2019!

Ultima Thule Credit- John Hopkins APL

New Horizons (NASA’s spacecraft) historic $700 million mission to Pluto launched in January 2006 and arriving on July 14, 2015. It was the first ever flyby of a probe past Pluto and it did so from approximately 7,800 miles (12,550 km) away.

Pluto from Charon_thetimes3

 

 

 

The Ultima Thule flyby is a continuation of this mission and will take New Horizons into new territory far beyond Pluto at the solar system’s edge, to an area of icy worlds in space, further out than the orbit of Neptune, (1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres on) in a region known as the Kuiper Belt.

On New Year’s Day at 12:33 a.m. EST (0533 GMT) hopefully, New Horizons will flyby Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) at under 2,200 miles (3,500 km) away. At this point it will be 4 billion miles+ (6.4 billion km+) away from Earth.

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Ultima Thule is, in point of fact, an enigmatic solar system body that scientists know almost nothing about. It is about 23-mile-wide (37 km) and currently it may or may not be just a single body. Alternatively, it is possible that it is made up of two objects that are in fact in orbit around one another.

NASA has given us the opportunity to send a message to Ultima Thule. Six choices were offered and Icewolf has chosen “Go New Horizons, Go NASA!” And we even get a certificate! Cosmic way to start the New Year 2019!!

EIW New Horiz Cert

“Travelling at light speed, the signals carrying these messages will reach the spacecraft about six hours after being beamed from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (in Laurel, Maryland, which manages the New Horizons mission for NASA), largest dish antenna, on the very same day that New Horizons flies by Ultima Thule! How cool is that?” – New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Happy New Year 2019!!

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The Mansionoid Meteorite Showers (2)   31 comments

The Mansionoid Meteorite Showers (2)

“He (Tom) gave momentary consideration as to whether this also applied to the sudden appearance of an alarmingly large and active vortex swirling towards the mansion at speed. He decided at roughly the same frightening speed the vortex was approaching at, that it probably didn’t and slammed the window shut in the hope that it would change its mind and go away…it didn’t….!! Surprised smile

(The Mansionoid Meteorite Showers (1) )

 

View from Pluto's Sputnik Planum by Ron Miller

Far away, in an entirely different dimension, Clowie was watching the meteorites from the small, frozen world of Pluto. Whilst enjoying the obvious benefits of being a strapping young Pyrenean Mountain dog, well-adapted to Pluto’s -230 degrees C surface temperature and cheerfully weighing up the odds on there being a subsurface ocean hiding beneath the methane ice, she was none the less delighted to see a warming bunch of burning mini liver cakes flying through the thin atmosphereSmile Liver Cakeoids!

She was easily distracted when Liver cake became involved in the equation… and flying high over Pluto’s icy plains and mountains in pursuit of the delicious mini Liver Cakeoids hurtling through the sky sounded tremendously appealing. Of course Pluto being as red as a particularly large liver cake it was perfectly natural that she was standing here in the middle of Sputnik Planum eyeing up Liver Cakeoids….that had been a result of Icewolf suggesting they pool sniffing powers and track down the best liver cake Pluto had to offer…

“There’s something very different about Plutonian geology – John Spencer Nasa researcher  Winking smile

Icewolf soaking up the Plutonian atmosphereWhen Icewolf wasn’t skiving that was…She was good at that! Something to do with soaking up the Plutonian atmosphere she had said…try Sputnik Planum she’d said. The pointed shaking of dusty white paws had, presumably been intended to convey the impression of a diligently digging Icewolf taking a break after hours of hard labour on the plains of Pluto… But Clowie was no dog’s fool and the large lump of liver cake stuck in Icewolf’s whiskers, told a rather different story. Winking smile Never the less here she was on Sputnik Planum!

Sputnik Planum - NASA

Her bipeds hadn’t been overly impressed about this unplanned turn of events, especially since Clowie had taken off at some considerable speed to reach her destination. Liver cake in the sky of Pluto and listening to the bipeds didn’t quite go paw in paw, so she hadn’t. At least not until she realised the screaming and shouting from her bipeds actually translated into, “Clowie!!! Chicken!!!!” Smile Skidding to an abrupt halt with scant regard for the pile of dazed bipeds tangled up in the leash behind her, she gazed into the Plutonian sky with rapt attention viewing a second Liver Cakeoid burst, which in turn drew her attention to the vortex whirling towards them apparently powered by swirling chicken feet. Clowie drooled delightedly, tongue lolling hungrily.

 

Not quite a hungry Pyrenean Mtn Dog but close!

 

Her eyes widened still further as she spotted a tiny Mansion hovering on the very far side of the vortex….Tom’s Mansion?? On a collision course with the the Liver Cakeoid meteorite shower….Splodge and Splatter! Liver cake everywhere! She wondered vaguely if there was anywhere in Tom’s Mansion to cook Liver Cakeoids…Winking smile

TO BE CONTINUED!

Read more about Tom and his awesome Multi-Dimensional Mansion Here! (Beyond the Sphere) https://wellheregoes.wordpress.com/

Read more about Tom’s fantastic new blog Here! (Splodge and Splatter) https://tlmerriman.wordpress.com/

Read more about the beautiful Clowie Here! (Clowie’s Corner) http://clowiescorner.en.1.3142.xyz/

Smashing the Final Planetary Frontier!   31 comments

It’s Pluto Time!

New Horizons_Desert Fantasy_New Horizonns7A

Seen from Pluto the Sun would be no more than a very bright star, the large yellow disc of Earth skies would be a distant memory in the mind of the intergalactic tourist. The light Pluto receives from the Sun is a thousand times dimmer than that enjoyed on Earth and although Pluto does have a thin atmosphere, which scatters the little sunlight it receives, the bright skies of Earth will never be seen on Pluto.

Weather and atmospheric conditions can also affect the amount of sunlight received by Pluto although at this point little is known about these matters. What is known however, is that Pluto’s day lasts approximately 153 hours. Combine this with long seasons and a long axial tilt parts of Pluto can remain sunlit for four years at a time!

So what can the intrepid intergalactic tourist actually do on Pluto? Lying on a sun-soaked Plutonian beach catching a fantastic suntan certainly is not on the agenda! Reading a good book, for example, “The Interspatial Tourist Guide Galactica” would be a great starting point – once the eyes have adjusted to Pluto light.

Alternatively it is perfectly possible to take brilliantly clear pictures of the Plutonian planetscape for the photographic enthusiast. For the avid WordPress blogger this would make for great blog material! Be sure to use a long exposure or a wider aperture to collect as much light as possible and better still take a few tips from the New Horizons probe!

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Pluto Time is a moment on Earth when the light conditions at sunrise and sunset matches sunlight at high noon on Pluto.

It’s always Pluto Time somewhere on our planet.

Next Pluto timeFind your personal Pluto Time visiting by NASA’s “Pluto Time” website and entering your location into the NASA web tool.

Pluto Time generates the next exact available time from any location in the world when you can go outside and discover what it would be like to actually be on Pluto experiencing the midday Plutonian light conditions . (Everyone has two chances each day, around dusk and dawn.)

NASA is also encouraging users of the tool to take photos during their local Pluto Time and share the images via Twitter with the hashtag #PlutoTime.

Pluto from Charon_thetimes3Charon, the largest of the 5 known moons of Pluto looms large in the Plutonian sky. It is actually bigger than Pluto and the two worlds both orbit each other – like a double planet. Charon is tidally locked to Pluto and therefore can only be seen from one side of the planet. On that side Charon would, on occasion, shine very brightly in the Plutonian skies. This is a similar effect to that of Earth and The Moon where we see only the bright side of the Moon but never the dark, far-side.

It turns out that we were compluto-lolcatpletely wrong about the colour we always believed Pluto to be which was shades of steely blue or grey.

Recent images sent back by New Horizons show that it is in fact a sandy reddish colour.

Competition for Mars the traditional red planet! However Mars should probably not be too worried now that it is sporting unexpected blue sunsets and green-blue auroras to set it apart from the competition.

Not to be outdone by Mars with its latest batch of tourist-attracting features, images from New Horizons also show that Pluto has a huge heart shape slicing intpluto with square close up highlighted o the surface of what is not far short of fifty percent of its side. Just for good measure the images also show that there is a whale on Pluto! Otherwise known as an expansive shadowy area at the base going by the nick-name of “the whale”.

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Despite Pluto being undeniably similar in colour to Mars, the reasons for this colouration are worlds apart. Mars’s rich red hues are a result of the iron oxide or rust which colours the planet’s rocks and soil. Whereas in Pluto’s case its colour seems to owe itself to the interaction between the Plutonian sunlight and hydrocarbon molecules. According to NASA, “The reddish colour is likely caused by hydrocarbon molecules that are formed when cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet light interact with methane in Pluto’s atmosphere and on its surface.”

Sources:

space.com 

solarsystem.nasa.gov

mic.com (Tech.mic)

independent.co.uk

universetoday.com

Pretty in Pink At The Edge Of The Galaxy   38 comments

 

Far away in the celestial wastelands at the outer edge of our Solar System further out even than Pluto, lies a lone dwarf planet going by the name of Sedna.

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Conspicuously red and shiny and boasting the sharing of its name with an Inuit goddess who according to mythology was the creator of the Arctic’s sea life, Sedna was likely enjoying its privileged position of unique lonesomeness. Having enjoyed this status since it was first discovered in 2003 it may not however have been quite so impressed to learn that it had company!

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Ever so slightly freezing cold at approximately -430 degrees F and very pretty in pink, dwarf planet 2012 VP113 lies 7 ½ billion miles from Earth’s sun (Earth lies at 93 million miles from its sun); although when it suits, it has the capacity to swing out to as far as 42 billion miles from our Sun; this is due to it’s having what is technically known as an “eccentric and elongated orbit.” Not to be outdone by its fainter pink neighbour Sedna can swagger out up to double this distance at 84 billion miles from the sun.

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Frozen pink world, VP113 is also a very small dwarf planet at only 280 miles in diameter meaning that Sedna can at least enjoy the satisfaction of being twice the size; although Earth dwarfs them both with a 7,900 miles diameter .VP113 is not at all shiny and therefore despite being very, very pretty in pink was extremely difficult for astronomers to spot. Hence its existence remained unknown until 2012 when it was discovered by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory telescope based in Chile.

So what exactly is so fascinating about a faint, frozen pink dwarf planet somewhere out in the farthest reaches of the solar system?

Basically it is likely there are many more such worlds to be found in this remote region of the solar system just waiting to be found. Scientists hope that they will, as a collective, shed light on the formation of both the new worlds such as VP113 and also our Solar System.

Sources:

Associated Press

Agence France-Presse