Pluto is now known to have at least five moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, P4, and the newly discovered P5), and its burgeoning population might pose a risk to New Horizons during its flyby, three years from now.
A newly published paper shows trans-Neptunian object Salacia to be unexpectedly large; it's somewhere around the tenth largest known thing beyond Neptune. It has a companion one-third its size, making it appear similar to Orcus and Vanth.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/03 05:20 CDT
My notes on a two-part presentation by collaborators Jim Richardson and David Minton about the sizes of things in the Kuiper belt, a story they told by looking at Saturn's moons. How does that work? What connects Saturn's moons to the Kuiper belt is craters.
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.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/15 02:18 CDT
I'm preparing a talk for the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show here in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon at 1:45. I have spent the morning putting together a slide that I have long wanted to have for presentations.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/25 01:45 CDT
NASA funds regular meetings of scientists who work on different parts of the solar system to provide scientific input into NASA's future plans. These "analysis groups" are known by their acronyms, all of which sound kind of horrible, but none has quite as terrible-sounding an acronym as "SBAG," usually pronouced "ess-bag," the Small Bodies Assessment Group.
Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/01/24 01:01 CST
The annual New Horizons Science Team Meeting was held last week at NASA's Ames Research Center.
As part of a big, ongoing project to make a comparison chart of the dimensions and physical properties of solar system objects I've spent the morning tackling the difficult problem of summarizing the physical characteristics of the biggest things that are out there beyond Neptune.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/17 10:39 CST
Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, What's in a Science Meeting?, about what scientists do at big meetings like the Division of Planetary Sciences.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/11 09:13 CST
I attended all day Tuesday of the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on October 5. The afternoon session on Tuesday was a grab bag about different small objects in the outermost solar system.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/08 04:48 CST
Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/25 11:18 CDT
An awful lot of the talks in the Pluto session on Tuesday morning, October 5, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting spent more time focusing on how bad weather conditions were during the astronomers' attempts to view Pluto as it occulted background stars than they did on any measurements or science that came out from the data.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/04 02:17 CST
I just posted my writeup of today's press briefing on a new map of Pluto produced from Hubble images. The main conclusion was that Pluto has shown an astonishing amount of changes across its surface between 1994 and 2002 -- more, in fact, than any other solid surface in the solar system.
Posted by Ted Stryk on 2010/01/19 07:55 CST
The New Horizons science team is meeting this week. Ted Stryk was invited to attend the meeting, and he sent the following notes from the first day.
Posted by Ted Stryk on 2008/03/14 03:49 CDT
I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.