Science Ideas Planets 10 fun facts about the solar system Science Ideas Planets

Science Ideas Planets 10 fun facts about the solar system Science Ideas Planets
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Science Ideas Planets

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The astronomers then conducted an analysis called a Bouger correction in order to subtract the gravitational effect of topological features, such as valleys and mountains, from the total gravity field. What is then left is the gravity field hidden beneath the lunar surface, existing within its crust.



Simply put, resistance to the creation of a space frontier originates with the insecurities of Western leaders. First, it is clear that everything changes with the emergence of a frontier. Established power structures are usually shaken, not reinforced. (If this is not clear, try reading Walter Prescott Webb's The Great Frontier, particularly the last chapter, and Divided We Stand: The Crisis of a Frontierless Democracy, by the same author.)



The tiny moon--which for now has been designated S/2015 (136472) 1, and playfully nicknamed MK 2, for short--is more than 1,300 times dimmer than Makemake itself. MK 2 was first spotted when it was about 13,000 miles from its dwarf planet parent, and its diameter is estimated to be about 100 miles across. Makemake is 870 miles wide, and the dwarf planet, which was discovered over a decade ago, is named for the creation deity of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island.

The discovery of a moon for Makemake may have solved one perplexing puzzle concerning this distant, icy object. Earlier infrared studies of the dwarf planet showed that while Makemake's surface is almost entirely frozen and bright, some areas seem to be warmer than other areas. Astronomers had suggested that this discrepancy may be the result of our Sun warming certain dark patches on Makemake's surface. However, unless Makemake is in a special orientation, these mysterious dark patches should cause the ice dwarf's brightness to vary substantially as it rotates. But this amount of variability has not been observed.



Second, there is the issue of sharing wealth. The Third World wants to redistribute wealth in its favor, and it pursues this end by a combination of moral persuasion and threats of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction. A frontier could make such threats less persuasive. The Third World reaction to a space frontier initiative is unpredictable and possibly violent. This makes pioneering a taboo for Western governments. And that's why they would keep it secret.



The Kuiper Belt is situated beyond the orbit of the beautiful, blue, and banded giant gaseous planet, Neptune--the outermost of the eight major planets of our Sun's family. Pluto is a relatively large inhabitant of this region, and it was--initially--classified as the ninth major planet from our Sun after its discovery by the American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997) in 1930. However, the eventual realization among astronomers that the frozen little "oddball" that is Pluto, is really only one of numerous other icy bodies inhabiting the Kuiper Belt, forced the IAU to formally define the term "planet" in 2006--and poor, pitiful Pluto lost its lofty designation of "major planet" only to be re-classified as a mere minor one--a demoted dwarf planet.

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