Observing Pluto I

“Experts have long thought that reddish substances are generated as a particular color of ultraviolet light from the sun, called Lyman-alpha, strikes molecules of the gas methane (CH4) in Pluto’s atmosphere, powering chemical reactions that create complex compounds called tholins. The tholins drop to the ground to form a reddish “gunk.” Recent measurements with New Horizons’ Alice instrument reveal that a diffuse Lyman-alpha glow falling on Pluto from all directions in interplanetary space is strong enough to produce almost as much tholin as the direct rays of the sun. “This means Pluto’s reddening process occurs even on the night side where there’s no sunlight, and in the depths of winter when the sun remains below the horizon for decades at a time,” said New Horizons co-investigator Michael Summers, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.” NASA (Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations 2016.)

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Observing Pluto II

“Wind-blown sand or ice dunes are known on Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Telfer et al. used images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft to identify dunes in the Sputnik Planitia region on Pluto. Modeling shows that these dunes could be formed by sand-sized grains of solid methane ice transported in typical Pluto winds. The methane grains could have been lofted into the atmosphere by the melting of surrounding nitrogen ice or blown down from nearby mountains. . .” — Dunes on Pluto. (Copyright 2018 Danielle Pajak Illustrations).

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The title of this piece is the Chinese ideogram of the Japanese word for “beauty”, but a beauty that is connected with the idea of sacrifice, as this ideogram is composed of two ideograms, 羊 (sheep) on the top and 大 (great) on the bottom. A sheep is a considered…

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The Romantic Rationalist

The Romantic Rationalist

“One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower.” - Ambassador Spock