The First-Known Interstellar Asteroid is Like a Giant Tumbling Torpedo

Remember that comet-no-wait-asteroid astronomers discovered in October on a high-velocity hyperbolic orbit around the Sun? It has been determined that the object must be of interstellar origin and, based on follow-up observations over the past several weeks, it’s shaped like nothing that’s ever been seen before. Advertisements

Can Pluto Be a Planet Again Already?

Ever since the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 our Solar System was known to have nine planets orbiting the Sun. “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” was a popular mnemonic in my elementary school days to help remember the order of major planets from Mercury outward. But in 2006,…

What Will We Name the Features on Pluto? You Decide.

This July the New Horizons spacecraft will perform its long-awaited flyby through the Pluto system, capturing unprecedented data and images of the distant icy planet and its companion satellites Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx. The first two worlds, in particular, will have their surfaces seen in high-resolution, allowing scientists to observe and map their features…

Here’s Your Chance to Name a Crater on Mercury!

On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER became the first human-made spacecraft to enter orbit around Mercury. Now almost four years, eight billion miles, and over 260,000 images later, MESSENGER is nearing the end of its operational life. To commemorate the many achievements of the mission, scientists from NASA and the MESSENGER teams at the Johns Hopkins…

John Lennon Memorialized with a Crater on Mercury

33 years after his death, John Lennon’s name has been officially given to a crater on Mercury. Imagine that. The 95 km (59 mile) wide Lennon crater is one of ten newly named craters on the planet, joining 114 other craters named since NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft’s first Mercury flyby in January 2008.

Vote to Name Pluto’s Moons!

I’ve written about this a couple of times before and put up polls here on Lights in the Dark, but now it’s actually semi-official: you can vote on the names for Pluto’s newest moons! (Looks like they may have taken some of our earlier suggestions too!)