Tag Archives: Space

Phobos Photobombs Hubble Mars Shots

The sharp eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the tiny moon Phobos during its orbital trek around Mars. Because the moon is so small, it appears star-like in the Hubble pictures.

Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate exposures, allowing astronomers to create a time-lapse video showing the diminutive moon’s orbital path. The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moon’s cameo appearance was a bonus.


via NASA’s Hubble Sees Martian Moon Orbiting the Red Planet | NASA

No ownership claimed on images or material – Credit NASA

Simon 🙂

#NASA #Space #Mars #Phobos #Hubble

Solar System Exploration – The Kuiper Belt

Beyond the orbit of the outer giants, beyond the orbit of Pluto even is a region of the solar system is the Kuiper belt. A place where the material left over from the creation of the solar system resides. We’re not quite into interstellar space (the space between the stars) yet, in fact we’re not totally sure where that begins yet. The Voyager probes that are the farthest human object from Earth are helping us to find this out.

The Kuiper belt isn’t a single object, it’s many object forming a ring around the sun from the orbit of Neptune’s e (30AU’s) to 50 AU’s from the sun. It’s in this belt that frozen comets, and icy dwarf planets are made. Pluto and Neptune’s moon Triton are thought to be Kuiper belt objects, captured and brought nearer to the sun. But what else do we know is out there?

Dwarf Planets

The Kuiper belt is known to be the region of a number of Dwarf planets:

kbos (1)







Are the main bodies, but other smaller object such as Ixion, Varuna and Orcus are continually being discovered. Pluto is also now classified as a dwarf planet and a Kuiper belt object and Neptune’s moon Triton is suspected to be a large Kuiper belt object that was captured by Neptune’s gravity as it orbits Neptune the wrong way. Triton is made up in a very similar way to Pluto to give further weight to this theory.


Voyager 2’s flyby in 1989 made discoveries of volcanoes or frozen methane and details on terrains which up until then we didn’t know existed. It was our first glimpse of what a Kuiper belt object was.




New Horizon’s flew past Pluto on 15th January 2015. The historic encounter brought back images and data of a world which up until then was almost completely unknown. p until then Pluto and it’s largest moon Charon had merely been a small and detail-less point of light in even the most powerful telescope.


There was always the possibility that New Horizons would be used to explore other Kuiper belt objects. Now it has been granted it’s second mission and New Horizons has been steered to make a close encounter with the rather unromantically named 2014 MU69 on January 1st 2019.

New Horizons Kuiper Belt Object Encounter

This will be the furthest object ever encountered by a human spacecraft to date at over 43 times the distance the Earth is from the Sun. What we will find is a mystery, it might be another ball of frozen gas, rock and ice or something completely different. Either way it will give us more information about what is in the Kuiper belt.


Further Exploration:

The Kuiper belt is a long, long way off and it takes a long time to get there. Any future missions are going to have to overcome this problem and justifying going out there is another problem. This is why New Horizons is the first and only probe to go out there and look at anything. Maybe we can look at more before New Horizons speeds out of the solar system. But in the meantime, advances with space telescopes mean we’re getting much more data that we ever have been before.

Hubble was used to plan the New Horizons flyby of Pluto, looking for other moons that needed to be avoided. Hubble found a small handful, handy to know when you’re shooting long distance like that. Dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt are giving up more of their secrets and revealing moons – There’s a whole solar system out there!

Countdown to Cassini’s Grand Finale

Cassini is now on it’s way towards it’s grand and ultimately destructive finale! Using Saturn’s largest Moon titan to fling it into a polar orbit between Saturn’s ring and it’s outer atmosphere it will complete 22 weekly obits of Saturn before plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15th

via Countdown to Cassini’s Grand Finale / Cassini-Huygens / Space Science / Our Activities / ESA

Titan on flyby to Cassini’s final orbit


Have a look at the links to see more.

Simon 🙂

No ownership claimed on images or materials – Credit ESA / NASA

Earth Day

In case you didn’t know, today is Earth day. A day where we focus on this self supporting spacecraft whizzing through the cosmos that we call home. We need to help this world keep us alive and looking amazing…

As usual I like to see things a bit differently. What better way than from Saturn…

That tiny spec is Earth… Us. All of us, everything we are, eat, drink everything we want for our phones, computers and everthing we use as fuel for our homes and cars.

There we are again. Between the rings. Small aren’t we? But we think big and we can sort out what we do about how we live our lives.

This isn’t a call to arms or a wake up call… Its a dream really. 

Happy Earth day!

Simon 🙂

Saturn images credit to NASA taken from Cassini