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Princess Turandot

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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 02:42 AM
Number of posts: 4,040

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New Horizons: 2014 MU69 Images Confirm the Kuiper Belt Object's Highly Unusual, Flatter Shape

2014 MU69: the 'snowman' shape of Ultima Thuli has melted away (so to speak) as new imagery from New Horizons' New Years Day flyby of the KBO is downloaded/analyzed.

The images are the 'rear view mirror' shots taken as the spacecraft left its small target behind at 31,000 mph:

...These aren't the last Ultima Thule images New Horizons will send back to Earth in fact, many more are to come -- but they are the final views New Horizons captured of the KBO (officially named 2014 MU69) as it raced away at over 31,000 miles per hour (50,000 kilometers per hour) on Jan. 1. The images were taken nearly 10 minutes after New Horizons crossed its closest approach point.
....
The newly released images also contain important scientific information about the shape of Ultima Thule, which is turning out to be one of the major discoveries from the flyby.

The first close-up images of Ultima Thule with its two distinct and, apparently, spherical segments had observers calling it a "snowman." However, more analysis of approach images and these new departure images have changed that view, in part by revealing an outline of the portion of the KBO that was not illuminated by the Sun, but could be "traced out" as it blocked the view to background stars.

Stringing 14 of these images into a short departure movie, New Horizons scientists can confirm that the two sections or "lobes" of Ultima Thule are not spherical. The larger lobe, nicknamed "Ultima," more closely resembles a giant pancake and the smaller lobe, nicknamed "Thule," is shaped like a dented walnut.

"We had an impression of Ultima Thule based on the limited number of images returned in the days around the flyby, but seeing more data has significantly changed our view," Stern said. "It would be closer to reality to say Ultima Thule's shape is flatter, like a pancake. But more importantly, the new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. We've never seen something like this orbiting the Sun."

https://twitter.com/Rainmaker1973/status/1093993589544271872
More: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php?page=20190208

If you can't see the vids in the tweets, they're also included in the article linked above.
Posted by Princess Turandot | Sat Feb 9, 2019, 02:23 AM (2 replies)

NASA (video): 2018 was the fourth hottest year in the modern record...

NASA: 2018 was the fourth hottest year in the modern record, part of a decades-long trend of warming. The record dates back to 1880, when it became possible to collect consistent, reliable temperatures around the planet. NASA and NOAA work together to track the temperatures, part of ongoing research into our warming planet. Music: Sculpture by Axel Coon [GEMA], Ralf Goebel




They've posted more content on global warming on their tumblr account (from 2/6/19): https://nasa.tumblr.com/post/182607983129/global-temperature-by-the-numbers
Posted by Princess Turandot | Fri Feb 8, 2019, 02:35 AM (1 replies)

NASA: Hubble Reveals Dynamic Atmospheres of Uranus, Neptune

Always fun to see images of these two, since there aren't all that many of them.

During its routine yearly monitoring of the weather on our solar system's outer planets, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a new mysterious dark storm on Neptune (right) and provided a fresh look at a long-lived storm circling around the north polar region on Uranus (left).



Like Earth, Uranus and Neptune have seasons, which likely drive some of the features in their atmospheres. But their seasons are much longer than on Earth, spanning decades rather than months.

The new Hubble view of Neptune shows the dark storm, seen at top center. Appearing during the planet's southern summer, the feature is the fourth and latest mysterious dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993. Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet. Since then, only Hubble has had the sensitivity in blue light to track these elusive features, which have appeared and faded quickly. A study led by University of California, Berkeley, undergraduate student Andrew Hsu estimated that the dark spots appear every four to six years at different latitudes and disappear after about two years.

Hubble uncovered the latest storm in September 2018 in Neptune's northern hemisphere. The feature is roughly 6,800 miles across.
...
The snapshot of Uranus, like the image of Neptune, reveals a dominant feature: a vast bright stormy cloud cap across the north pole.

Scientists believe this new feature is a result of Uranus' unique rotation. Unlike every other planet in the solar system, Uranus is tipped over almost onto its side. Because of this extreme tilt, during the planet's summer the Sun shines almost directly onto the north pole and never sets. Uranus is now approaching the middle of its summer season, and the polar-cap region is becoming more prominent. This polar hood may have formed by seasonal changes in atmospheric flow.
...
Both planets are classified as ice giant planets. They have no solid surface but rather mantles of hydrogen and helium surrounding a water-rich interior, itself perhaps wrapped around a rocky core. Atmospheric methane absorbs red light but allows blue-green light to be scattered back into space, giving each planet a cyan hue.

The new Neptune and Uranus images are from the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, a long-term Hubble project, led by Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, that annually captures global maps of our solar system's outer planets when they are closest to Earth in their orbits. OPAL's key goals are to study long-term seasonal changes, as well as capture comparatively transitory events, such as the appearance of Neptune's dark spot.

More: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/hubble-reveals-dynamic-atmospheres-of-uranus-neptune

https://twitter.com/NASAHubble/status/1093577638801821697
Posted by Princess Turandot | Fri Feb 8, 2019, 02:15 AM (0 replies)
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