Every year, The Planetary Society and Starry Messenger Press collaborate on a "Year in Space" desk calendar, where each week is accompanied by a gorgeous space image. This year, editor Steve Cariddi asked me to write a feature for it. I've got my copy of the calendar now, and it's gorgeous as usual; moreover, my feature is the very first thing in it!
I decided to write about "Off the Beaten Path: 12 Unique Solar System Destinations." Lost in the endless debate about "what is a planet?" is the fact that the smaller denizens of our solar system are fascinating worlds unto themselves. From the greatest of the outer planet moons, Ganymede and Titan (both larger than Mercury!) down to tiny asteroids like Itokawa and Dactyl, each of these non-planets has a unique surface and its own complex origin story just waiting to be told by planetary scientists. I've selected a dozen of these asteroids, comets, and moons both round and lumpy for you to explore in images and captions. There's also an article by Planetary Radio's Mat Kaplan about what to look forward to in 2011.