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Curious facts about cosmic life and their inhabitants.

In a mysterious region beyond the orbit of the beautiful, banded, blue ice-giant planet Neptune--the most distant of the eight major planets from our Sun--there is a dark and frigid domain called the Kuiper Belt. Within this remote region, where our Sun shines with only a weak fire, and appears to be merely a particularly large star suspended in the black sky, a multitude of strange, icy worldlets tumble around our Star. Pluto, a large icy denizen inhabiting the Kuiper Belt, was originally classified as the ninth major planet from our Sun after its discovery in 1930. However, with the realization that this frozen "oddball" is really only one of several large, icy inhabitants of the Kuiper Belt, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) found it necessary to formally define "planet" in 2006--and poor Pluto was unceremoniously ousted from the pantheon of major planets. Pluto, now freshly reclassified as a dwarf planet, nonetheless remains a small world of great interest, debate, and affection. Scientists will soon learn much more about this beloved, distant, ice-ball so far away, when, after a treacherous nine-year journey of three million miles through interplanetary space, NASA's hearty New Horizons spacecraft arrives at Pluto on July 14, 2015.



and here is another

Galileo Galilei first spotted the planet Neptune with his primitive "spyglass" on December 28, 1612. He observed it again on January 27, 1613. Unfortunately, on both occasions, Galileo thought that the giant, remote planet was a fixed star, appearing near the planet Jupiter in the dark night sky. Because of this mistake, Galileo is not credited with the discovery of Neptune.



and finally

Mystifying, bewitching, and swathed in a heavy, dense shroud of orange hydrocarbon mist, Titan circles its immense gas-giant parent-planet, Saturn, and is a remarkable world in its own right. Slashed by strange rivers and seas of ethane, methane, and propane, and pelted by large and lazy drops of hydrocarbon rain, Titan is an eerie, tormented, and mysterious moon-world orbiting its magnificent and beautiful ringed parent-planet, in the distant outer realm of the giants--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The four enormous and gaseous wonderland worlds are unlike the quartet of much smaller rocky denizens of the inner Solar System--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Because of its dense orange blanket of smog, the geological features of Titan's surface were hidden from the prying eyes of curious astronomers until 2004 when the Cassini/Huygens orbiter and lander finally arrived there--and started to unveil its long-hidden face. In April 2016, a team of planetary scientists announced yet another important revelation about this moon-world--a large sea on Titan is composed primarily of pure liquid methane, with the seabed itself possibly well-coated in a sludge of carbon-and nitrogen-rich material, as well as showing strange shores surrounded by wetlands.

Other facts:

The research proposes that the shoreline surrounding Ligeia Mare is possibly porous and may be saturated with liquid hydrocarbons. The data span a period running from local winter to spring, and the astronomers expected that--in a way similar to seasides on Earth--the surrounding solid terrains on Titan would warm much more rapidly than the sea.



Moons are natural satellites that circle around another body that, in turn, circles around its parent-star. The moon is held in place by both its own gravity and the gravitational pull of its planet. Some planets have moons, while others do not. Several asteroids are known to be circled by very small moons, and some dwarf planets--such as Pluto--also have moons. One of Pluto's quintet of moons, Charon, is about half the size of Pluto itself. Some planetary scientists propose that Charon is really a large chunk of Pluto that was torn off in a catastrophic collision with another wandering world long ago. Because Charon is almost 50% the size of Pluto, the two tiny icy bodies are sometimes considered to be a double-planet.



The crew was able to complete the mission, which would have put a big smile on the face of former President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy had set a goal to put a man on the moon prior to the end of the decade (1960's) and this goal had now not only been fulfilled, but broadcast worldwide for any who wished to see the triumphant event. Clearly, this amazing feat proves that anything is possible.