Scientists discovered Earth has a new quasi-satellite. It is an asteroid, and it does not orbit the Earth. But, because of the relationship between its orbit and Earth’s around the sun, it is involved in what NASA described as a dance with Earth. This is not Earth’s only dance partner, however, as we interact with a second asteroid as well. The screenshot of a YouTube video (from user britoca) shows how gravity choreographs the second dance.
Credit for the piece goes to YouTube user britoca.
Well, to start, we don’t really know for sure. We also don’t really know Planet Nine exists for sure. But, you plug its existence into mathematical models and it explains some of the quirks we see in the Kuiper Belt, the cloud of dust and ice at the outer reaches of the Solar System. A team of intrigued Swiss scientists then created a model exploring the range of characteristics Planet Nine might exhibit. The BBC published an article that featured an image of the interior characteristics of the plent.
Credit for the graphic goes to Christoph Mordasini and Esther Linder.
Last night we experienced a total lunar eclipse here in Chicago. Unfortunately, significant cloud cover meant that much of the event went unseen. That was unfortunate, because eclipses are fantastic. To explain it we have this piece from the BBC.
And for those were either unable to see it or did not know about it, here is one of the photos I took.
Credit for the diagram goes to the BBC graphics department.
So this is sort of a recycled post, in the sense that I talked about it back in April of 2013. But it’s worth revisiting in light of last month’s announcement of Kepler 452b. For those unaware, the planet is a little bit larger than Earth, but is believed to be a potentially rocky planet like Earth that orbits a star very similar to our Sun in a very similar orbit.
Credit for the piece still goes to Jonathan Corum.
Last week, NASA’s Dawn probe entered orbit above Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. But later this summer, the New Horizons spacecraft is set to race past Pluto, formerly a planet but now a dwarf planet. New Horizons launched in 2006 and will have taken nine years to reach Pluto. But how long is a year on Pluto? Thanks to the New Horizons team, we can see how one year on Pluto is 248 Earth years, or longer than the history of the independent United States.
Credit for the piece goes to the NASA/New Horizon team graphics department.
What is out there beyond our solar system? Are there little green men in flying saucers? Or Klingons waging war? The first step in figuring that out is knowing how many planets can be inhabited by life as we know it. This interactive graphic from National Geographic explores just that. And as it turns out, most of the exoplanets we have discovered are not habitable. But a few offer promise. If only we could warp on over and properly explore them.
Credit for the piece goes to John Tomanio and Xaquín G.V.
Today we head off to the stars. Well, more appropriately the comets. The New York Times had a piece a little while back that looked at the orbits of several comets that pass near the Sun. Siding Spring in particular is highlighted because of its near approach later this autumn.
Last week NASA announced that last year, Voyager 1 left the Solar System about 25 August 2012. A lot of the graphics that were published to support that story chronicled the distance travelled by that probe. However, this excellent graphic by the Los Angeles Times instead looks at how NASA determined through the data returned that Voyager had left the Solar System.
The piece does a really good job of setting up the story in illustrating the instrument packaged used to collect the data. Moving down the piece, it shows locations and the different environments and then how those environments differ in electron density. Lastly it looks at how NASA interpolated the date from the data collected. A really solid piece.
Credit for the piece goes to Monte Morin, Doug Stevens, and Anthony Pesce.
We already got to Mars. At the end of a week of maps and map-related things. Here’s a map of Mars. Well, sort of. It’s more of a map of Mars as explored by Curiosity. (Remember that guy?)
It’s an interactive piece from the New York Times that charts out just where the rover has driven and photographs of the stops along the way. There’s also a nice little chart that shows just how much of the trip has consisted of driving.
Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum and Jeremy White.