Earth & Space

“So You Want to Be a Planet?” Pluto is still in the running

Pluto's loss of planetary status seemed to have been sealed by the 2006 discovery of a batch of similarly-sized planet-like objects in the same orbital neighborhoodone of which, later named Eris, was thought to be larger than erstwhile ninth planet. According to new findings, however, Pluto's diameter is larger than that of its more massive neigbhor. For now, Pluto gains in status as the largest of these so-called dwarf planets. Whether this will be enough to secure a record contract remains to be seen.

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The Catalina missile a boy scout conspiracy?

An explanation for the spectacular missile contrail that appeared in the Los Angeles sky last night continues to prove elusive. Amidst the speculation, a benign possibility suggests itself: could it be that someone got carried away while trying to earn Scouting's space exploration merit badge?

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The woman in the moon

It's a lunar craterin this case, a rather striking one found in the Bay of Rainbow's in the moon's northern hemisphere. But as the blazon of Chinese characters indicates, there's something different about this image. The probe Chang'e 2named for the Chinese goddess who lives on the moon with her companion, the herbalist Jade Rabbitis scouting sites for a planned Chinese robotic moon landing in 2013. The budget for Chang'e 2 is reportedly a mere $134 million.

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A hyperdrive for Google Earth

Perhaps the most visceral effect Google Earth offers takes place when you open the program and that vision of the Earth from space swings into view. It's tempting to head off into space itselfbut the space imagery Google includes is low-res and very incomplete. Now, two Fermilab scientists have created a layer of rich, detailed images of galaxies and galaxy clusters, using data from the Sloan Sky Survey...

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