Well, there’s been a whole slew of new stuff found out about the solar system and trying to keep up with it all is going to be quite a task…
As expected New Horizons keeps on downloading new images of Pluto and its moons. Here’s a better image of the crescent…
You can just about make out some of the layering in the atmosphere!
Then one of its moons came up with a ‘surprise’ – Kerberos which from the image below looks like two ice-rocks close together.
That there are moons like this does not come as a surprise to me… let’s just say I’ve written a story that is as yet unpublished about such a moon, only it’s more complex than two ice-rocks. But the interesting point is that the such a configuration is stable – which means their mutual gravitational attraction is greater than the gravitational tidal forces due to the planetoid and its other moons.
And then there’s the intriguing craters on Charon. Roughly the same size and fairly close together. But one, Organa, has higher concentration of ammonia in the ice than seen anywhere else. Skywalker on the other hand is rich in water ice. The high ammonia picture showed up in the 2.2 micron filter.
Expect pictures from Cassini on its latest flyby of the moon Enceladus, through the plumes from the outgassing at its southern hemisphere.
Tomorrow (Thursday 2pm EST) NASA are going to make an announcement about what they’ve discovered about the Martian atmosphere. By all accounts they have the high profile leaders from the MAVEN probe ready to face the journalists. So it must be something significant.
And to add to the intrigue the Rosetta probe has found oxygen in the atmosphere surrounding the comet 67P. It’s come as rather a surprise to the scientists as oxygen is a highly reactive element. They are obviously trying work out why it’s there. So watch this space.
Reaction Engine Ltd has now got the go ahead to develop the SABRE with a grant of £60million from the government. This is on top of BAE Systems purchasing 20% of the company for £20.6million. This is big money indeed. But that SABRE engine, intended for the Skylon space plane, will also help fly a plane from London to Sydney in four hours.
OK so I got a soft spot for Skylon – it’s even been mentioned in my science fiction story Neptune’s Angel – no I won’t tell you what I did with it – go and enjoy the story.
Also expect an announcement soon about relationship between general relativity and quantum mechanics soon… not sure what it’s going to be – but here’s the link explaining more.
There is definitely a bundle of news here, all of which would inspirational for writing science fiction stories…