The Spacewriter introduces the “discovery” of a large planet deep in the Kuiper Belt, by Konstatin Batygin and Pluto-Killer Mike Brown. She walks us through the process that began with giving those two astronomers the idea that there might be something to look for, and ended with their announcement of it’s likely mass and orbital characteristics. It’s important to remember that, so far, this is just a theoretical prediction, although astronomy has a decent track record of discovering objects through exactly this sort of mathematical reasoning – think Neptune and Ceres.
From Space.about.com comes an in-depth article on the subject of Mars’ atmosphere. We know that Mars once had liquid water flowing freely on its surface, but this must mean that Mars once had a much thicker atmosphere, with a pressure and temperature high enough to stop water from immediately bubbling away, or freezing. The obvious question, then, is “What happened to it?”
Universe Today writes about the big planetary alignment that we’ve all been hearing so much about. There’s not a lot of background that they’re able to offer, so instead we get a detailed breakdown of exactly what objects we’ll see, and where they will be. The show is currently on right now, and will be visible for another week or two.
Universe Today also brings us the latest update in the construction of the Orion capsule – a next generation spacecraft intended to carry a human crew further into space than ever before. It will be launched on its first test-flight to the Moon and back in 2018. Technicians recently completed the precision welding needed to join the seven components of the spacecraft’s pressure vessel, using a technique known as Friction Stir Welding.
And closing the Carnival for the week, Planetaria offers their own look at “Planet 9“. In contrast to the Spacewriter piece linked above, Planetaria pays more attention to the controversy around a ninth planet (including both the demotion of Pluto and the theoretical nature of the new discovery). We learn that the discoverers themselves would be extremely skeptical if they hadn’t made it themselves, and that many are outraged that they are the same people who claim responsibility for dethroning Pluto in the first place!
And that’s that! My thanks to all the hard-working contributors who wrote these articles, and to you for taking the time to read them. Tune in next week at The Venus Transit for the next Carnival of Space.