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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

Some big moons in the Kuiper belt

In a new preprint, Mike Brown and Bryan Butler show evidence that two Kuiper belt moons are even bigger than we used to think. They are Eris' moon Dysnomia, and Orcus' moon Vanth.

Where are the big Kuiper belt objects?

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.

Brief notes from Day 2 of the DPS-EPSC meeting

It's been a very full day at the DPS-EPSC 2011 joint meeting. My day was less full than it might have been, because I overslept and missed most of the morning's session. I really needed the rest though so I think it was probably for the best!

South of the Border

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

The scale of our solar system

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system.

Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

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.

Space is vast. There's a lot of exploring to do.

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