“The derived composition and profile suggest that WASP-18b is the first example of both a planet with a non-oxide driven thermal inversion and a planet with an atmospheric metallicity inconsistent with that predicted for Jupiter-mass planets.”
There’s a small, icy object floating at the outer edge of our Solar System, in the messy Kuiper belt. Or it could be two objects, astronomers are not sure.
But NASA is on track to find out more, as that object has been chosen as the next flyby target for the New Horizons spacecraft – the same probe that gave us incredible photos of Pluto in 2015. And now they want your help to give that target a catchy name.
Currently, the enigmatic Kuiper belt object is designated 2014 MU69, but that’s just the provisional string of letters and numbers any newly discovered object gets.
“Yes, we’re going to give 2014 MU69 a real name, rather than just the “license plate” designator it has now,” New Horizons’ principal investigator Alan Stern wrote in a blog post earlier this year.
“The details of how we’ll name it are still being worked out, but NASA announced a few weeks back that it will involve a public naming contest.”
And now, folks, our time to shine has arrived.
NASA has finally extended an invitation for people to submit their ideas for a name, although they note this is not going to be the officially-official name just yet, but rather a nickname to be used until the flyby happens.
The team at New Horizons already have a bunch of ideas prepared, which now form the basis of the naming campaign, and anyone can already vote for those.
Amongst current choices put forward by the team are Z’ha’dum – a fictional planet from the TV series Babylon 5; Camalor – a fictional city actually located in the Kuiper belt according to Robert L. Forward’s novel Camelot 30K; and Mjölnir – the name of Norse thunder god Thor’s epic hammer.
One of the most interesting aspects of MU69 is that we’re not even sure whether the object is one body or two – telescope observations have hinted it could actually be two similarly-sized bodies either in close mutual orbit, or even stuck together.
Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of Space & Satellite related courses. We thought the news below could be of interest to our readers.
In recent months it has appeared likely that Voyager 1, a probe launched in 1977, has gone beyond our solar system but now it’s official: the spacecraft has left the building.
This makes it the first human-made object to move beyond the Sun, its planets and its heliosphere, a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles.
The findings are to be published in Geophysical Research Letters (see abstract).
In their article the authors write:
“It appears that [Voyager 1] has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing [hydrogen] and [helium] spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium.”
And so there you have it, humans are an interstellar species. This is the century in which we have sent a machine on the path to the stars. Will a spacecraft carrying humans join it next century?
We can only hope.
UPDATE: NASA says not so fast, reiterating a position it took last December when questions arose about Voyager’s exit from the solar system:
“The Voyager team is aware of reports today that NASA’s Voyager 1 has left the solar system,” said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called ‘the magnetic highway’ where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space, and that change of direction has not yet been observed.”
Well, that’s interesting.
Yes, according to National Research Council report. Future success of space missions depends on new technology that NASA should already be developing.
NASA’s technology base is “largely depleted,” leaving the agency without the advancements it needs to meet the future goals of its space program, according to a new report.
“Success in executing future NASA space missions will depend on advanced technology developments that should already be underway,” according to an Interim Report on NASA’s Draft Space Technology Roadmaps by the National Research Council. “However, it has been years since NASA has had a vigorous, broad-based program in advanced space technology.”
With the space shuttle program over, NASA’s space program is in a period of transition that’s being hampered by budget cuts. Still, NASA has set its sights on ambitious goals for future space missions, such as sending people to the moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit.
The agency has 14 space technology roadmaps–which NASA commissioned the report to examine–that identify “a wide variety of opportunities to revitalize NASA’s advanced space technology development program.
The report’s findings suggest that the completion of these roadmaps could be in jeopardy.
The report cites several examples where there are gaps. For instance, to send people to destinations beyond low earth orbit, the agency needs new technology to mitigate the effects of space radiation, from both the cosmic ray background and from solar flares. It also needs new, state-of the art environmental control and life support systems (ECLSSs) that are highly reliable and can be easily repaired.
The report makes suggestions for how NASA can better ensure the success of its space technology program, such as increasing program stability; pursuing evolutionary improvements and adopting intermediate goals; and maintaining a balance between the focus and flexibility of the roadmaps in establishing technical approaches.
In a statement, NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun said the agency largely agrees with the findings of the report. He added that NASA also is looking forward to the completion of the final report, which is due in January. It will be used as guidance for the agency’s space-technology investment decisions in fiscal year 2012.
You can download a copy of the Interim Report here .
What is your opinion? Please comment below…
54 of them are in habitable zones of stars that are cooler then the Sun and temperatures could allow for existence of liquid water. This is exciting news considering that this report comes from the data collected by Kepler satellite within first four month of the 3.5 year project. Scientist predict that they will eventually find Earth-like planets.