Science at the edge of the Solar System

Science at the edge of the Solar System

Pluto: the last and final of the ‘original’ 9 planets of the Solar System to be visited by a probe. NASA’s New Horizons arrived at this tiny world at the edge of the Solar System earlier this week bringing into sharp focus for the first time. Science was a plentiful from every new image that was released, so here’s a quick recap for you, just in case you blinked and missed it…

Hold on to Your Moons! Ice, Atmospheres and the Grand Tack

Hold on to Your Moons! Ice, Atmospheres and the Grand Tack

Among the many ideas proposed to explain the formation of our Solar system, one of the leading theories is the “Grand Tack”. This scenario suggests that, early in their formation, Jupiter and Saturn undertook a sweeping voyage, migrating from the outer Solar System to within the orbit of Mars. The two huge planets then entered an orbital resonance with each other, before their cosmic dance took them back out to their current positions. The model neatly explains, amongst other things, the current locations of Mars, the Asteroid Belt and the outer planets—which are hard to recreate in models assuming a more static Solar System.

Plutonian craters to be named after Star Trek characters

Plutonian craters to be named after Star Trek characters

In July of this year (2015), NASA’s New Horizons mission will fly past Pluto and its moons. It will map the surface of the Plutonian system in unprecedented detail, revealing craters and other surface features for the first time. In preparation for the deluge of newly discovered craters, mountains, crevasses and other surface features, Mamajek et al. discuss a naming system for Pluto and its moons.