Seriously Ceres

With a diameter of 945 kilometers, the thirty third largest body in our solar system rules the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Spinning on axis in a nine hour day, rounded by its own gravity, comprised of rock and ice – a third of the asteroid belt’s mass, answers to the name Ceres.

NASA’s Dawn Mission reached Ceres in March 2015, discovery of “bright spots” left science scrambling for answers. Residing in Occator Crater, the largest revealed characteristics without explanation. Evidence of salt deposits, indication of never imagined “activity” in an asteroid? Dawn couldn’t tell, but astronomer Paulo Molaro at La Silla in Chile shed sunlight on Ceres.

“… when the spots inside the Occator crater are on the side illuminated by the sun they form plumes that reflect sunlight very effectively. These plumes then evaporate quickly, lose reflectivity and produce the observed changes. This effect, however, changes from night to night, giving rise to additional random patterns, on both short and longer timescales.

If this interpretation is confirmed Ceres would seem to be very different from Vesta and the other main belt asteroids. Despite being relatively isolated, it seems to be internally active.

Ceres is known to be rich in water, but it is unclear whether this is related to the bright spots. The energy source that drives this continual leakage of material from the surface is also unknown.”


Fly Around Ceres

Ponder Ceres, largest resident of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Discovered in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, early astronomers considered it a planet. With a diameter of 598 miles, planet is a stretch. Officially, this 33rd largest object in our solar system is a dwarf planet. Large enough to be rounded by its own gravity, yet much too small for planetary respect.

Fortunately, size doesn’t matter to science. In 2007 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched the Dawn probe. Dawn’s mission – study “protoplanets” Vesta and Ceres in the asteroid belt to advance understanding of how solar systems form. In July of 2011 Dawn began a 14 month orbit of Vesta (Ceres rocky little sister with a diameter of 325 miles), March of this year found Dawn entering orbit around Ceres. On June 8, 2015 NASA released this video compilation, flying around Ceres – Taken from Dawn’s first orbital mapping and navigational images.

Remarkable as it is, the video hasn’t solved one of Ceres greatest mysteries, a curious surface anomaly dubbed the double bright spot. Over the next few months NASA is asking our opinion – vote volcano, geyser, rock, ice, salt deposit or other at the link below.

Image – NASA


Ceres Dawn

This morning at 4:39 AM PST NASA’s Dawn probe made history – almost 8 years from Earth, gravitational pull 38,000 miles from Ceres captured Dawn, the first probe to orbit a dwarf planet. Discovered in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, Ceres reigns as largest object in the “asteroid belt” between Mars and Jupiter. At 590 miles in diameter it’s also the only asteroid belt object “rounded” by gravity – composed of rock and ice, it accounts for one third the mass of our asteroid belt. Originally hailed as planet, then asteroid, science settled on dwarf planet Ceres.

Dawn has been a busy little probe – second to Ceres in pecking order of the belt is Vesta, a plucky little asteroid about a third the mass. En-route to Ceres, Dawn paid Vesta a visit in 2011. Images of Vesta indicate liquid water once flowed on her surface.

Dawn will now decrease orbital distance around Ceres, by August 2015 a projected distance of 1,480 Km begins a 2 month high resolution 3D mapping phase. November 2015 finds Dawn orbiting a mere  375 Km., for 3 months of gamma-ray, neutron detection and gravitational analysis.

NASA hoped Dawn could leave Ceres for a rendezvous with asteroid Pallas in 2018 – Dawn simply won’t be able to muster enough steam. With just enough fuel too navigate proposed orbital inclinations, Dawn will forever remain an orbiting satellite of Ceres.

Weather Satellite

Many people hear the term “weather satellite”, immediately dismissing the concept as nothing more than a glorified “eye in the sky”weather report. To grasp an inkling of what these satellites do, start by thinking of them as Earth Observing technology. Of the 3000 or so satellites orbiting our planet, 120 are dedicated to specific observance and measurement of planetary changes.

Take Suomi, launched by NASA in 2011 Suomi circles the globe 14 times a day at a distance of 500 miles. Equipped with cutting edge ultraviolet and infrared sensors, Suomi measures ocean temperature and water vapor from evaporation at impossibly minute levels. Unhindered by cloud cover or darkness, Suomi boasts CERES (cloud and earth radiant energy system) collecting data for long term analysis of climate change, and short term storm/hurricane tracking. Appreciating Suomi is dependent on understanding the precise science of weather – hurricanes can’t form before ocean temperatures reach 79 degrees Fahrenheit, a irrefutable tipping point at which evaporation accelerates, forcing millions of tons water vapor up to 10 miles where winds driven by Earth’s rotation whip them into circular behemoths. The slightest variance in ocean temperature, all that stands between harmless blusters and a state of emergency.

Aqua has orbited the poles since launched by NASA in 2002, it collects data on a “global scale”. Oceans, atmosphere, land, ice, snow cover and vegetation – precisely measured and studied to understand the impact they have on each other. Miniscule changes in ocean levels, particulates like ozone, carbon monoxide and dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere, impact of vegetation, forest fires and volcanoes on climate, tracking plankton blooms – all in a days work for Aqua.

Earth observing satellites monitor our planet with relentless accuracy. Each assigned specific tasks, missions that dictate stationary or orbital movement, height and duration – all with the goal of averting calamity through earlier warnings, while building base line data for tracking climate change.

Upwards of a billion dollars a year goes into debunking climate change. Money straight from  deep pockets of those standing to lose the most if ever we demand accountability. Check out the link below…

One needn’t break a sweat pondering this one – what possible rational exists beyond indifference or apathy to swallow propaganda from “big money” over meticulous scientific data calling bullshit on corporate greed? Wake up people, the numbers don’t lie. Earth observing satellites don’t have shareholders to pacify or untold wealth to squirrel away in tax havens. The link below doesn’t pretend climate change is alarmist poppycock.