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asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Pluto Imagry is trickling in

None of these places had names before this mission! As these images are coming out, the New Horizons team is naming various features.

I'm personally keeping logs of our IRC channel since it started, and the end of the old one. I haven't released them publicly for fear of breaching someone's privacy or whatever. I'd be willing to share them if requested.

If the remote machine has a wider pipe, it could download things, compress them, and then serve that to you. This is the Opera Mini strategy.

It's not what firethief was talking about, but it's one way that that could be the case.

I disagree.

I think that if the left was having reasonable issue-driven debates during the primary without any mudslinging (Sanders isn't one to sling mud, hopefully Hilary doesn't either) as a contrast to the republican circus, it would help the party as a whole. It would make them seem like a reasonable counterpart to the republican zeal.

I think that painting themselves as the reasonable party in contrast to the Republican bickering and mud slinging and money and "everything that's wrong with politics in this country" would serve the democrats well.

But hey, I'm no political scientist so what do I know.

I'm not convinced that this is a second Earth yet.

There is still no indication that this is a rocky planet. Many of the super earths that we have found have turned out to be gaseous sub-neptunes. For example, the closest discovered planet to this one in terms of radius is Kepler 138c, which has a density of ~1.9g/cc. For reference, if the planet was entirely rock (no metal core), it would have a density of about 3g/cc. Iron has a density of 8g/cc. Kepler 138c must have an extensive atmosphere to have that low of a density; it is a gas ball much like Neptune (density 1.6g/cc).

There are many other planets that are this size that are also gas balls, and a few that are rocky as well. We don't know if this planet is rocky or gaseous yet. We don't know anything about it other than that it is in the habitable zone around a sun-like star.

If this planet is rocky, then get excited for the JWST or TMT to look at it when either of those are built so that we can analyze its atmosphere.

Don't get your hopes up too high for now though.

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

Well, you need someone like Alan Stern. He invested his whole career into New Horizons and he is pretty much the only reason why it happened and became the success that it is and has been so far.

You know, his son Jordan is about to start grad school... Unfortunately I don't think that he's up for following in his father's footsteps. He's a math major in undergrad rather than anything astronomy related. Understandable that he wanted the chance to prove himself on his own rather than live in his father's shadow.

But my point is that we need someone with that kind of drive and determination to get a mission through. The type of person where no matter what happens they keep trying until they finish the job. Maybe whoever was in charge of the Hayabusa?

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

There are definitely some, but there are very few, and in particular no large ones.

Crater counting is one of the easiest ways to date the surface of a body.

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

For those curious, this hypothetical mission would take longer to get to Pluto than New Horizons because it wouldn't just be flying by, it would need time to set up a slower approach and enter into orbit around Pluto and give the lander time to collect the sample.

It would also need enough fuel to then change trajectories and return to Earth, as well as all of the fuel for the lander. These types of sample return missions are very expensive, which is why there have not been many. There were a few somewhat famous ones to the moon in the 60s and 70s, one that collected solar wind particles (barely had to leave the Earth's neighborhood, no landing required), one that flew through the tail of a comet and collected dust (no landing required), and one by JAXA that retrieved a sample from an asteroid. It's ultimately cheaper to bring the science/instrumentation to the object than the other way around, and those are the types of missions that get funding.

A rover is far more likely than a sample return mission, but even so I wouldn't put money on a return to Pluto in the very near future.

Make friends and conversation with people that you otherwise wouldn't.

The more people you interact with, the more likely you are to get different perspectives, however this is most effective if you seek out those that are outside of your bubble.

If you do it on a social media site that tracks your choices, it will change what it serves you, however you're still being limited by what their algorithms choose to serve you. Ultimately, because of the way that these algorithms are designed, it's very difficult to expand your mind and see different perspectives if you use them.

Better is to do it in a place where the people with different viewpoints congregate - either in real life or online. Maybe go to a large public gathering for something, like a concert or a meet up, but try to find groups that are outside of your usual comfort zone.

I find that IRC is a great online analogue for that. You can go into different channels and talk to people with different views. The drawback is that people using IRC are generally all the type of people that know something about computers, so it's not a truly diverse sample set.

Beyond that, when you're out in public start talking to random strangers. Make conversation and make new and different friends. You'd be surprised at how open to conversation some people are. But even this isn't perfect as you'll only be exposed to the extroverted people that won't shy away from talking to a stranger.

It's hard in today's day of social media and content served by algorithms, but it's possible. You just have to put the legwork into creating and maintaining the types of relationships that people used to have pre-technological revolution. It's hard, but if you truly want to expand the range and diversity of people you know and talk to, it's currently the only surefire way.

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

Very nice! I live in Orlando and am involved with an Astronomy Society here. We have a few 8" telescopes and one 21" (in the Robinson Observatory). I know your pain of trying to cut through light pollution (damn Disney) and humidity and poor conditions. Have fun with all of that!

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

    Pluto's density does not suggest that it is porous like a comet or asteroid.

Nope, because its gravity is pulling it together enough to compress the rocks together and make it not porous. This is the point that I was trying to make, sorry if it wasn't clear.

You get to a point size-wise where eventually you stop just getting bigger, and you start getting denser. This happens when the force of gravity overcomes a force stopping things from compressing. There are many such forces, and thus many such points where "object gets bigger, then starts getting denser, then starts getting bigger again, then denser again, etc" as you add more and more mass.

    Something is reforming the surface of Pluto!

Again! Speculation on my part! Take it with a grain of salt! Please don't use concrete language like "is" or else I'll regret posting my thoughts and will take them down so that people don't get confused.

Those aren't facts, that's a hypothesis from me.

asdfoster  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pluto has a tail!

    Was anyone expecting an active geology?

There was a little bit of speculation because of the atmosphere that was detected by the Hubble, but largely, no. That idea was mostly ignored because we weren't sure what could CAUSE an active geology on an object as small as Pluto.

    And yes atmosphere is being mentioned, and that can be a factor, but we are talking thinner than the Martian atmosphere here.

Yes, Pluto's atmosphere is incredibly thin, but something to remember is that while on something like Mars, the only means of the atmosphere destroying evidence of craters is erosive factors like wind, on Pluto the atmosphere is also in equilibrium with the ices on the surface. Ice will "frost" out of the atmosphere and blanket the surface, covering up a lot of features. The ice is melting more on the parts that face the sun and depositing more on the parts that are not. This difference isn't a lot, but it's enough to add up over time. Pluto is also, as you mentioned in your previous post, orbiting "on its side", which means that this deposited ice is melted off of the summer side and redeposited on the winter side over and over for each orbital period. This type of cycling could easily cover up evidence of craters.

    this preliminary data is showing it acting more like a comet than a planet.

This was expected. Compositionally, Pluto IS a comet, just a very large one. The tail was expected when we saw that the atmosphere was so large. We expected its atmosphere to be in the process of being depleted. The tail always points away from the sun, so we couldn't have detected it until we got behind it, this is just confirmation.

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