Sunday, 29 November 2015

News from Outer Space, November 2015

Spectacular photos arrived from Pluto.
Snakeskin-like surface on Pluto

And from its moon, Ceres which has a dynamic surface that erases meteor impacts. 
Bright spots on Occator crater, Ceres.
Planet wide canyon on Charon
The moon, Charon, has cracking lines and a younger side that has been resurfaced as well as tar? stains at the pole.

Our sun's sunspots are flat-lining with prospects of some cooler climate ahead.  There's increased policy awareness (DARPA) of hardening infrastructure on earth from extreme electromagnetic pulses from the sun's fire.
On Mars, some sedimentary rocks are noted and the Curiosity Rover visited a small dune field.  There's further mention that Phobos can expect to decay and break up against Mars in the near future (30 million years).
The Philae comet lander woke up a bit and communicated with it's mother satellite (Rosetta) as the comet came around the sun.  They know within a couple hundred yards where it ended up on the comet.
Voyager1 has moved further beyond the solar system (beyond the heliopause) but the debate is still on about how far the system's field stretches since the whole darn thing has a bow wave as the earth does in the sun's field.
Planetary exploration now is galaxy-wide and recently inferred a field of cometary debris ( or an alien megastructure) around one sun and the outlines of a weather system on a planet of another sun. Papers like to tout stories about the first earth-like planet but they're getting ahead of themselves.
"The odd nature of the energy pulse is matched by
the odd locations of the start/finish of the pulse".
A mysterious pulse was picked up propagating through our atmosphere and others from outside the galaxy.  Astronomers are having difficulty ruling out artificial origin. It's probably natural.  Our species has advanced to the point of leaking photons and electromagnetic fields into space for a brief moment and may stop leaking such stuff within a hundred years.

Black holes are almost ho-hum these days but it was news to have come across a sun being torn apart at a black hole boundary.  This is being watched in real time.

Closer to home,  Elon Musk almost brought two rockets back to earth for recycling and Bezos brought one back.  (Not quite comparable rockets).  Perfect this and the cost of getting off-planet plunges.
A good spot to go for solar system updates is Astro Bob who specializes in things you can see with a good amateur telescope.

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