We downgraded its status, but Pluto still showed us its heart.
A spartan but warm-toned orb with a prominent heart-shaped terrain came into clear view Tuesday morning after NASA’s New Horizons snapped a picture some 476,000 miles from its surface after nearly a decade of travel.
Pluto was still considered a planet when New Horizon’s took off in 2006 for the end of our solar system. Since then, astronomers changed its status to a dwarf planet, but that did not diminish the excitement scientists and fans of star-gazing as the probe approached Pluto and its moons.
Just because Pluto lost its planetary status doesn’t mean it’s any less interesting to astronomers.
NASA on Wednesday reported two football-shaped moons that wobble so unpredictably that the sun could rise in a different direction every day from either of the moons.
The Hubble Telescope recorded the oddball orbits of the oblong moons Nix and Hydra, which wobble because they are embedded in a constantly shifting gravitational field created by dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Pluto and Charon share a common center of gravity.
A first-class flight in a Soyuz space capsule is rocky, reliable and rather snug. An astronaut sits in a semi-fetal position, works the controls with a stick and feels a pretty heavy G load, especially on reentry.
So imagine if a fire breaks out on the Soyuz spacecraft. There’s no extinguisher, no exit and no help to call.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen narrated a video showing he and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov going through a simulated fire on a capsule to train for an upcoming flight to the International Space Station.
We have a reinvigorated interest in the mysteries of space. Astronaut Scott Kelly is just beginning a record-breaking stint in zero gravity, a space probe is about to fly by Pluto and manned missions to an asteroid and Mars are in the pipeline.
There is also the ongoing science on how to go to the bathroom in space, where things tend to float.
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti explained that mystery over the weekend, when she took time from her work on the International Space Station to give a video tour of the bathroom (see below) and delicately describe going Numbers 1 and 2 in zero gravity.