Science Tidbits #4

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Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Tue May 12, 2015 3:42 pm

The last thread got suddenly full...

For the new one we got some new stuff on Ceres's bright spots. including a cool animation of the dwarf planet spinning.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Mon May 18, 2015 11:27 pm

Ah, finally I noticed the new thread. :lab:

These bright spots are getting more and more interesting-- since they're looking more and more like spaceship debris. :D There seem to be a few other somewhat-bright blemishes around the surface, so it's probably just subsurface ice, but you have to wonder what's exposing it. There's no crater. There's no wind to cause erosion. Something must be pushing it up. But what could cause geologic activity on a body that size?
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Tue May 19, 2015 3:25 pm

I was wondering about geological activity myself. As cold as it is out there it probably wouldn't take much heat to start some kind of convection.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue May 19, 2015 10:07 pm

I was thinking about the amazingly low albedo. If it only reflects 10% of sunlight, that means it absorbs 90%. It must be much warmer inside than you would expect at that distance.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:58 pm

The good news is that comet lander Philae is alive!
The bad new is that it's actually an alien replicant that will bombard us with bad Syfy movies. :Ahhh:

Elsewhere in space, New Horizons is giving us new images of Pluto. It's looking like Pluto will be visually more interesting than Ceres.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:23 pm

Wow, that's a shocker. Not only alive, but with plenty of juice. And some historical data. Hopefully, the income from the B-Movies will help fund the mission. :D

I hope they post that data soon.

Pluto is definitely looking intriguing. Lots of distinguishing features showing up. The probe is now only about a quarter of the distance from the Earth to the sun.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:37 pm

They have confirmed the smallest Exoplanet yet, a little guy about the size of Mars, the innermost of a three-planet system around a red dwarf. Not in the habitable zone, but we're another step closer.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:18 pm

It will be even better once they can start studying what kind of atmosphere's exo-planets have.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:59 pm

I don't think it will be much longer. They've already started making inroads in that direction. We've had imaging of cloud formations and some rudimentary spectroscopy.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:40 pm

An interesting thing on whether Venus's volcanoes are erupting or not.
Plait lays out quite a bit of evidence and I think it's likely. Carl Sagan once pointed out that there were channels where it looked like liquid was flowing on Venus. He referred to them as a mystery, but I've always assumed they were made by molten sodium- which would stay liquid for quite a long time on Venus. Plait also mentioned the anomaly of all of the planet's surface being the same age, hinting at some global catastrophe. That has always fascinated me and I've wondered if Venus's odd rotation could also be explained by that. It's almost like something massive hit it.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:09 pm

Yes, the global cataclysm mystery is interesting. Is it because of an impact or because the planet lacks plate tectonics, resulting in a huge buildup of pressure? That could happen even if there is some volcanism at weak spots in the crust. The evidence for active volcanoes is compelling. There's been other evidence over the years, like local weather activity consistent with volcanoes. It might even be signalling another global event is imminent. If something like that happened, I wonder what it would look like. Would we get a break in the cloud cover? Would that release heat and actually cool the planet? It would certainly be interesting.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:54 pm

^I've often wondered what it would take to clear out the clouds on Venus- or even if it would help at all.

Meanwhile, Ceres continues wit amaze with mysteries. It's looking like this place may be geologically active.
And they should name that mountain Erebor. :D
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:02 pm

So the white spots are getting weirder and now we've got an inexplicable mountain. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the mountain is the shelter that the aliens built after their ship crashed. In the mouth at the top of the mountain, we'll find a transmitter that signaled futilely for help for a thousand years before breaking down.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:56 pm

And while Ceres had mysterious white spots, new shots from Pluto are showing really dark spots. Including dark spots at Charon's poles.
I can't wait for next month.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:53 pm

This is exciting. :D It amazes me how every new world we look at is so unique and mysterious. The same simple processes at work, and yet it seems like there's an infinite number of outcomes.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:49 pm

Pluto's not a dwarf planet! It's a space station!
Just kidding.
But this world is getting more exciting as the days go by. :yes:
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:56 pm

"That's no dwarf planet...." :D

Strange to see Pluto with an orange tint. It's always looked like a snowball in fiction.

Only a week and a half to go! Well, a few months, actually....
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:40 pm

^Yeah. They have to have time to digitally remove all the alien relics on the surface. :mutant: :saucer: :alien2:
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:36 pm

Yeah, all those little aliens with signs that say "Planethood Or Bust!" and "Dwarf This!"
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:04 pm

^Those couldn't be much weirder than what's coming into view. This is going to be more exciting than Ceres! :yes:
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:54 pm

Awwww. :sweetlove: I'll bet they feel guilty about demoting him now. He's the Solar System's biggest Smiley. :D

Those are huge features. I can't wait to see them in high-res. It's hard to tell, but the heart seems to have the whale on one side and a chain of mountains on the other, as if the whole thing is ringing the equator.

I followed one of the links on that page and found pictures of the New Horizons team meeting with the band Styx. :lol:
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:33 pm

More goodness from Pluto! It's looking like it's geologically active like we were speculating about earlier.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:14 am

Oh, man, look at the resolution already. And those surface features are funky. :D I wonder what could be making it geologically active. I'm pretty sure the tidal forces between Pluto and Charon are balanced. Maybe some unpredicted low-temperature chemistry?
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby Lupine » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:51 pm

Charon's orbit around Pluto (or rather around their shared center of gravity) is rather elliptical. I think that would be enough to generate gravitational heating.
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Re: Science Tidbits #4

Postby RJDiogenes » Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:16 pm

Could be. I thought I read somewhere that everything was balanced out. Hopefully we'll find out more in the next couple of weeks-- although the data will be dribbling in for a while.
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