Until just a few years ago, a plot of mass versus size of other worlds would have looked pretty sparse and uninformative. But thanks to the tireless efforts of exoplanet astronomers, we now know fairly precise masses and radii for hundreds of distant worlds.
January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.
How many planetary exploration missions are there, and where are they? These days, it's hard to keep track, because there are so many. I plan to begin the new year by taking stock of active missions, figuring out what each has set out to do and accomplished so far, but first I want to step back to consider the spread of missions across the solar system as a whole.
I have a newly updated scale comparison graphic to share: all the round worlds in the solar system smaller than 10,000 kilometers in diameter, now with added Pluto, Charon, and Ceres.
Last Friday I posted an image containing 18 samples of terrain, all shown at the same scale. Were you able to figure out which square was which? Here are the answers.
A look at the surfaces of 18 worlds in our solar system, all at the same scale.
People often ask me to produce one of my scale-comparison montages featuring the small moons of the outer solar system. I'd love to do that, but Galileo's best images of Jupiter's ringmoons lack detail compared to Cassini's images from Saturn.
Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.
Having found a color photo of the comet, I finally added Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids visited by spacecraft.
Rosetta's view of the comet is getting better and better. Today they released a new image from the high-resolution OSIRIS camera, and it's a very fresh one, taken only two days ago. Distinct features are coming into view. And it's finally detailed enough for me to compare it to the five other comets we've visited in the past.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT
Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.
I am very excited about 2015, more so than I have been about any year since I started working at The Planetary Society. Dawn will enter orbit at Ceres, and New Horizons, which will fly past Pluto and Charon. But if we want this kind of exploration to continue, I'm challenging you, dear readers, to tell the world why such non-planetary worlds are compelling places to go exploring.
Pluto's moons, formerly known as "P4" and "P5," are now named Kerberos and Styx; I thought I'd help place them into context with a little help from Cassini. Also, Neptune now has a 14th known moon.
A few presentation slides with pretty pictures, sized to scale, of the large moons of the solar system.
My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/19 01:38 CDT
I made myself a cheat sheet to many of Vesta's distinctive-looking craters, and also wrote down a list of the major dates in the timeline of Dawn's exploration of Vesta.
There is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity's presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/16 10:14 CST
Cary and Michael Huang present a basic "powers of ten" visualization starting at human scale from which you can scrub downward smaller than quarks or upward to the scale of the entire universe.
Earlier today I wrote a post about how to calculate the position of a body in space from its orbital elements. I'm trying to get a big-picture view of what's going on in trans-Neptunian space.