26 July 2015

In Praise of Dwarf Planets: Pluto, Charon and Ceres

I don't often spend time in the High Court, but when I do, it's good to have some uplifting thoughts to entertain me. This week, many of those thoughts have provided by three dwarf planets: Pluto and Charon (the two of whom can be argued to form a binary dwarf planet system), and Ceres, the largest dwarf planet in the Asteroid Belt.

The New Horizons mission to the Kuiper Belt, which has just visited Pluto and Charon, and the Dawn mission to the Asteroid Belt, which visited Vesta before heading to Ceres, are sending back fascinating images and science results. There are squillions of these about, but here are a few of my favourites:

Kind of Ceres to leave the porch light on to welcome the Dawn orbiter.

Earth has a water cycle. Titan has a methane cycle. Does Pluto have a nitrogen cycle?

Is that dark patch on Charon caused by deposition from Pluto?

Clearly the next step in Pluto's campaign to be reinstated to the ranks of full planets is for Australia to be declared a planet.

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