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Found 2 results

  1. In case you can't open the link, the New Horizons probe just performed an adjustment burn in order to intercept MU69, a KBU (Kuiper Belt Object). "After the burn the spacecraft transitioned out of a so-called “three-axis stabilized mode,” the operating mode that allowed New Horizons to make new telescopic observations of six KBOs over the past week. These science observations will reveal new information on the shapes, surface properties and satellite systems of these objects, in ways that can’t be done from Earth. Images from these studies will be transmitted to Earth in the coming weeks." Edit: I shouldn't say JUST performed a burn, the article was published on 2Feb2017, but this is the first time I've heard about it.
  2. Hello fellow Kuiper-belt lovers! Meet the new member of the solar system's distant and frigid outskirts: Just a few minutes ago, NASA announced the discovery of the first moon around dwarf planet, KBO and plutoid Makemake. The discovery was made from images taken by Hubble's WFC3 in April 2015. Preliminary data says the moon is some 160 km wide (8.7 times less than its parent body), 1300x dimmer than Makemake, and orbits in a roughly circular and edge-on orbit (as seen from Earth) with a period of at least 12 days. Further observations will allow better precision. Cool things you can do with a moon: calculate the system's total mass and therefore put constraints on its formation and evolution scenarios (e.g., Charon's discovery made astronomers realise Pluto was 100x less massive than expected from the 1930s observations) generate a density profile for Makemake and compare it to Pluto's internal structure to see whether the similarities between these two worlds (both are rich in methane ice) extends beyond their frozen surfaces too and much more! Quite surprisingly, S/2015 (136472) 1 (its provisional name) or MK 2 (its provisional informal name) is charcoal-black, whereas Makemake is snow white. This could explain the mysterious dark patches seen in the infrared on Makemake's surface a few years go. Preliminary speculation says the moon's gravity might not be strong enough to hold on to the ices once they've sublimated, exposing the darker, subsurface material. Interestingly, of the four dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt (that is, all dwarf planets except for Ceres), Makemake was the only one without a known moon, obviously until now.