The Big Space Exploration Topic [21-08-2017: Total Solar Eclipse in the USA!]

edited August 19 in General Discussion Posts: 10,784
2015 will be a very exciting year for space exploration, as no less than two previously unexplored dwarf planets, Ceres and Pluto, will be visited and photographed by two NASA space probes. Moreover, I think there should be a general topic about the subject matter of space exploration (I could not find a previous related topic).

Now what about those two NASA space probes that will be visiting Ceres and Pluto?

--> The "Dawn" space probe: Which will explore dwarf planet "Ceres", which is orbiting between the circular orbits of planet Mars and planet Jupiter, in the Asteroid Belt.
The official mission site: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/
--> The "New Horizons" space probe: Which will explore dwarf planet "Pluto" and its moons. It has been demoted in 2006 to "dwarf planet" status.
The official mission website: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/

solar-system.jpg

Before Dawn's arrival, this was the best known image of Ceres, made by the Hubble telescope:
Ceres_optimized.jpg
Now Dawn has almost arrived at its destination. Next month March it will go into orbit of Ceres. In the meanwhile Dawn has made a much sharper black-and-white image of Ceres:
opnav3_700.jpg

As you can see, Ceres is the only real "round" object in the Asteroid Belt (between Mars and Jupiter). Ceres has a diameter of 960 km (give or take a few km's if you measure it from pole to pole or from the equator). It was considered to be the first known asteroid, but has now been fully promoted to "dwarf planet". Ceres has a similar reddish color as compared to Mars. You can find the general stats about Ceres here: http://space-facts.com/ceres/

Pluto however, as you all know by now, has been demoted from "planet" to "dwarf planet". This is the best image we have so far:
pluto.png
And in July of this year, New Horizons will go into orbit of Pluto. At this stage New Horizons is still too far away to make good images, but the probe has awakened from "winter sleep", and it does make pictures for location positioning purposes:
20150204_OpNav2_Press_miles.jpg

Pluto has a diameter of 2,368 km (give or take 20 km's if you measure it from pole to pole or from the equator) and is located near the Kuiper Belt. Also Pluto appears to be a bit reddish in color. Just to be sure: "A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.". Some facts about Pluto you can find here: http://space-facts.com/pluto/

Both Pluto and Ceres are, according to the new IAU definition (2006) not a full "planet", but a "dwarf planet".

Upcoming three months we can expect the best known detailed pictures from both Ceres and Pluto. That will be very exciting no ;-)?
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Comments

  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady ‎85 Albert Embankment, ‎Vauxhall‎, ‎Lambeth‎ Community
    edited February 2015 Posts: 1,818
    Hopefully we will also be able to discern whether there is water on them. I do have a an interest in space and hope that they are able to be photographed alright. I remember when the news reports came out that Pluto was no longer a planet. It was very odd to me. That image of Pluto looks like someone blurred something in Photoshop and then put a black frame around it. =))

    I actually just made this in honor of Pluto

    Msk2dRE.jpg

    Bond's DB10 is in the center
  • Hopefully we will also be able to discern whether there is water on them. I do have a an interest in space and hope that they are able to be photographed alright. I remember when the news reports came out that Pluto was no longer a planet. It was very odd to me. That image of Pluto looks like someone blurred something in Photoshop and then put a black frame around it. =))

    Hehe, well, I think it's good to know that besides our "normal planets", our solar system has got quite a lot of "dwarf planets". And with dwarf planets I mean other, close-to-perfect spherical bodies.

    Moreover, lately new evidence has been found that there are two more planets hiding at the edge of our solar system, most likely twice the size of our own Earth:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/20/two-planets-solar-system_n_6503706.html
  • Posts: 9,217
    The ultimate discovery will be life on other worlds! I genuinely hope that this happens within my lifetime! Especially intelligent life as that would change all our lives and change the whole worlds priorities!
  • Didn't they find bacteria on Mars but only in one test the second test couldn't
    Be done for a technical reason ? Also I seem to remember reports last month that a signal had been received from a far distant planet ( like 50,000 years to reach us ) ?
    Although I agree life will be found, just a matter of time.............
    ........ and I for one welcome our new alien overlords ! :D
    Seriously thought I do think life will be descovered, and I think it will be in our
    Lifetime.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    @RogueAgent, Intelligent life discovered during our lifetime? I'm not sure that'll ever happen. The chances of any proof of E.T. life actually reaching us our ridiculously slim. I'd love it though. Just to show some loonies on planet Earth that we aren't quite as unique as they seem to think we are... ;-)
  • Yes, maybe "Intelligent life" has already checked us out and thought
    we'd best be left alone ? :D
  • Posts: 9,217
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    @RogueAgent, Intelligent life discovered during our lifetime? I'm not sure that'll ever happen. The chances of any proof of E.T. life actually reaching us our ridiculously slim. I'd love it though. Just to show some loonies on planet Earth that we aren't quite as unique as they seem to think we are... ;-)

    Never been called a loony before! Thank you! ;)
  • edited February 2015 Posts: 2,481
    That we one day will discover life on other planets is not so far fetched. However, the idea that we will one day discover intelligent life forms is simply ludicrous, Im sorry! If such lifeforms exist elsewhere they are simply too far away. People seem to underestimate the sheer size of this immensely huge universe...

    - Credited: A wise loony ;)
  • I think it's highly likely that there are microbes or bacterias on Mars. And even if we talk in such a jokey fashion about it, it means, if proven, another huge leap for mankind. Just think about it. A bacteria is too small to be intelligent yes, but it is life nonetheless. It has DNA (Or perhaps something completely different)....alien DNA. It could have profound effects on how we perceive life. Don't forget that the NASA is already organizing lectures about the religious and ethical implications of such discoveries.
  • edited February 2015 Posts: 4,461
    jobo wrote: »
    That we one day will discover life on other planets is not so far fetched. However, the idea that we will one day discover intelligent life forms is simply ludicrous, Im sorry! If such lifeforms exist elsewhere they are simply too far away. People seem to underestimate the sheer size of this immensely huge universe...

    - Credited: A wise loony ;)
    I tend to concur.
    I did see an article a few years back. I can't remember the exact math numbers but the premise was essentially this.
    That the odds of two intelligent species co-existing in the universe at the same time are virtually nil ie the "the time of man" is finite and relatively short, as would be the existence of another species. Given the universe is billions of years old, odds of co-existing are not good.

    I think the sci-fi films we make in terms of meeting aliens will have to suffice. :D

  • Also unless the movies have lied to me, Aliens always come down here
    Full of attitude ! :))
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    I'm not calling anyone on this thread a loony, mind. ;-) I'm merely referring to those who believe the universe was created especially for us a mere few thousand years ago.
  • edited February 2015 Posts: 2,341
    The idea of extraterrestrials coming here with attitude is interesting. Face it , if any species could travel hundred of light years...how would they see us?

    I would think that they would see us as savages, vermin and have to be eliminated. I mean whenever a technologically advance civilization meets one that is not as advanced what happens? Ask the Native Americans how being discovered by Europeans thing worked out for them?
    (ask the Asians, and Africans while you're at it)

    As far as Pluto goes, I kinda hated it when "experts" demoted the little guy.
  • First alien to set foot here will kill us all from those nasty space germs he'll
    Have and we'll have no immunity to ! :D
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    DrGorner wrote: »
    First alien to set foot here will kill us all from those nasty space germs he'll
    Have and we'll have no immunity to ! :D

    Actually I predict it'd be the other way around. ;-)
  • "Somebody usually dies" ;)
  • Why can't we just stay more into a discussion that's more closely related to "science fact"? I mean, it's a funny discussion, talking about first contact or extraterrestrials.

    But what ME personally interests, is the chance of finding whatever kind of life. Microbial life or non-photosynthesis-life. People really underestimate this kind of life. And especially when a non-intelligent microbial lifeform is found, it WILL have huge implications for the question that every human being wants to be answered: "Are we alone?".

    I already call such a discovery the "2nd giant leap of mankind". And it has ethical complications as well. How are religions going to deal with it? Or what about the scientific implications? How do these alien microbes look like under the microscope? Do they have DNA building blocks? Or do they use other structures'
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    Indeed, I too am fascinated by the prospect of learning more about microscopic life forms that are not photoautotrophs. Life doesn't even have to be carbon based, although our so-called carbon chauvinism is hard to fight. Life needs energy first and foremost. Planets rich in hydrogen or methane for example, may invite life forms which are chemically simpler than terrestrial species. They wouldn't necessarily need sunlight to exist. They might sustain incredible pressures or extreme temperatures. So even on Jupiter, life in some shape or form might exist. I've always loved the idea of a giant jelly fish type of hydrogen consuming creatures living on Jupiter, or silicon based life forms on some Jovian moon. It's not impossible.

    Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov have gone even further by adding the suggestion of life getting rid of its biological shell and flying around like a conscience without a body. How about the possibility of bacteria acting in group as one major conscience too? It has been demonstrated, for example, that one single ant cannot escape a certain trap while many of them can, almost as if a whole set of ants link their 'minds' to one another and produce a higher intelligence.

    Concerning your remark on religions and such, @Gustav_Graves, can I say that I don't give a thing about that? Religions will have to cope with the truth since there's no other option. I don't think that extra-terrestrial life negates the existence of God; it merely shows that we are nothing particularly special. Ah well, Bruno tried to show that several centuries ago and was reportedly burned at the stake for it, by the Church. Let's not even discuss all the madness Copernicus and others had to deal with. And since we're not in Arkansas now, I can safely criticise those who still "believe" that man once walked with dinosaurs.
  • edited February 2015 Posts: 4,461
    DrGorner wrote: »
    "Somebody usually dies" ;)
    My favourite alien fiction is X-Files. Love the conspiracy angle they tie in with it too.
    Mulder fought the good fight.
    They come to colonize us and nothing more! Nothing good can come of any visit.
    Will Smith did nice job fending off invasion too, in Independence Day!

    I would like to see man go back to the moon and mine for minerals. There must be something in those rocks and craters we can use. And no-one is going to protest environmental degradation etc.

    Its the barren lifeless moon. Who cares! :D

    Just knock down that monolith thing that Kubrick left behind and get to work.
    Set up little golf courses to keep the miners entertained. Build the first course near the Apollo 11 site, and name it after Neil Armstrong.

  • edited February 2015 Posts: 10,784
    Ceres as of February 19th in even greater detail. The Dawn space probe is now closing in very fast oo our dwarf planet Ceres. It is the first time in human history that this beautiful little planet is visited:
    PIA19185_700.jpg
    http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/Ceres_two_bright_spots.asp

    There's one big mystery though. Dawn keeps capturing the same two bright white spots (lights) in the same crater over and over again. So.....what the hell is it? Ultra-reflective ice? A snow covered area?
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    Interesting. I'd think a reflective spot. But no doubt some will speculate on the presence of aliens. ;-)
  • edited February 2015 Posts: 10,784
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    Interesting. I'd think a reflective spot. But no doubt some will speculate on the presence of aliens. ;-)

    2001_space_odyssey.png


    :D



    But in all honesty, I think it's super-reflective ice. Which means that it could be the purest form of water found so far on a particular heavenly body besides Earth.

    And.....the New Horizons spaceprobe is closing in on Pluto as well as its moons Nix and Hydra: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php?page=20150218
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 14,305
    This thread rocks. Thanks to everyone here, it's fascinating.
  • chrisisall wrote: »
    This thread rocks. Thanks to everyone here, it's fascinating.

    Yeah. And since Star Trek is not able to make us wonder again about the beauty of unexplored space, I prefer to stick to the real stuff ;-). Can't wait to see the first images of Pluto and its moons.

  • Posts: 10,784
    Stunning. The NASA probe Dawn has just arrived at our lovely dwarf planet Ceres:

    15-027-ceres-gif-650.gif
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    Stunningly beautiful vision!
  • Posts: 10,784
    Indeed. But we still don't know what these two bright spots are ;-).
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 13,672
    Okay I might as well admit it; I drank two cans of Red Bull and couldn't find the bin. ;-)
  • Posts: 9,217
    Stunning. The NASA probe Dawn has just arrived at our lovely dwarf planet Ceres:

    15-027-ceres-gif-650.gif

    A simple picture, but another piece of history in the making of space exploration. =D>
  • Posts: 10,784
    Tomorrow new incredible pictures from the mysterious white spots!
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