Still — as close as this is, the nature of these spots are unknown. Must… get… closer… Read more.
This is the last visit of this kind for the forseeable future. Apart from a few of the other larger Kuiper Belt objects, this is the only planned exploration of a major body in our solar system left that has never been seen by human eyes before. Every planet, all the major moons and the most significant asteroids have all been revealed if not globally mapped. There would have to be a new mission planned to Eris, Makemake or to one of the other Kuipers to see something like this again. Even if a mission like that was approved, it would be years of development plus another 10 year slog before arriving at such distant targets.
It is worth noting that as soon as 2017, New Horizons is expected to make another flyby of a much smaller Kuiper Belt object and then again in 2019 — with a possibility of a third if one can be found. So even after Pluto is over… there will still be a few encores.
Planetary Society’s first ever Kickstarter is up and it is already sailing toward it’s goal. In just 24 hours they are halfway to reaching their 200K goal! This will fill the existing budget gap the Society is currently operating under and will make LightSail a fully funded before it’s first planned launch later this month.
New images of Ceres show the bright spots as a series of smaller spots in close proximity. This makes it fairly certain that the source is a highly reflective surface — such as ice.
Finally found a colorized version of Don P. Mitchell’s work on the Soviet Venera mission which reveals Venus as one would see it standing upon the surface. The color was added to the image by someone better qualified than myself and is most likely closer to the reality than what I had posted a few years ago. According to the Italian Astronomy Photo of the Day, “this job carried out by the Italian Researcher Dr Paolo C. Fienga”.
There are now several white spots appearing on Ceres as Dawn makes it’s final approach to the dwarf planet. Any knee-jerk expectation say that there is merely a brighter material beneath the surface that was revealed by ancient impacts. Why the surface is darker and the underneath material is brighter (see Iapetus) would be a mystery… but perhaps they still may be related to the active geysers scientists have previously predicted due to data provided by The Herschel Infrared Space Observatory.
We shall soon see.
The Dawn spacecraft is approaching Ceres and has begun observations, including this first animation. Ceres is a dwarf planet that resides within the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter and is the last unexplored spherical body (that we know of) that resides within the orbit of Neptune. Read the rest of this entry »
This was the view from Rosetta’s Philae lander when it came to rest upon Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. What is shown is one of the landers feet (bottom center) and a very craggy surface beyond. After bouncing 3-4 times, scientists assume that Philae finally came to rest set precariously upon an uneven surface. Despite these images and images taken from Rosetta orbiting above — they have yet to find exactly where the lander has settled. Read the rest of this entry »
All three designs are published for our Kickstarter project. Back us today and get this Curiosity poster, Voyager or Cassini (or all three) as large scale screen-printed posters.
Consider backing our Kickstarter project and get this Cassini poster, Voyager or Curiosity (or all three) as large scale screen-printed posters.
The poll is complete and the most popular robotic spacecraft in history have been selected. Thanks to the efforts by The Planetary Society. The top three missions selected here now represent the themes of our series of screen-printed posters celebrating the history of robotic space exploration. To support this effort please see our campaign page at Kickstarter.
The Voyager Program
As we expected the Voyager Program came into the top spot with 507 votes (18.5%). The poster for this design is already complete and available for viewing on the campaign page.
Cassini / Huygens
Cassini takes poster #2 with 432 votes (15.7%), effectively eclipsing it’s sister probe Galileo. This design is expected to be completed on or before October 23rd.
Mars Science Lab (aka Curiosity)
The newest member of the robotic Martian community of surface rovers, Curiosity arrived in 2012 and has stolen the thunder of the previous Mars Exploration Rovers with 340 votes (12.4%). This design is expected to be completed on or before October 31st.