If you want to take your moon-map love to the next level, check out CosmoQuest’s MoonMappers citizen science project and help map the moon. CosmoQuest recently proved that amateur mappers can do just as good a job as the pros, from the comfort of their own homes. Everyone can science!
High above the oasis of Earth, your belly reflecting
The dappled azure glow of oceans rolling far below,
You are waiting patiently for your final pilgrims to arrive.
Soon they will climb to you on twin pillars of fire-
Hauling themselves up out of Terra’s gravity well
By their bleeding fingernails - to find you sailing
So serenely through the void, your mighty wings
Outstretched, shining mirror-bright, reflecting
The diamond-dust light of a million distant suns…
Then, dressed all in fresh-snow white, the bravest acolyte
Will float to your side in reverent silence struck dumb,
By the heart-stopping sight of you hovering there, silhouetted
Against the hazy, air-brushed band of the Milky Way,
Bathing in the luxurious light of ten times ten billion alien stars,
And with the world watching far below, trembling with fear and love…
I throw my plumes up into space sometimes, sayin’ Io…
This has to be the most breathtakingly awesome eruption since Eddie Van Halen dipped the whammy bar down back in 1978.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this blast spewing up from Jupiter’s moon Io back in 2007, as it passed by on its way to Pluto (which it will reach next summer … it’s really far away). That plume rises more than 330 kilometers (200+ miles) into space, nearly the altitude that the International Space Station orbits above Earth!
Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. So many eruptions take place on Io that no impact craters survive, they are constantly filled in by fresh material from the moon’s interior. In fact, Io holds the title for “most powerful eruption ever recorded in the solar system”, back in 2001.
So … Y-IO U SO MAD?
Next to the sun, Jupiter is the most massive object in the solar system. Jupiter’s gravity, combined with the gravitational influence of Io’s fellow moons Europa and Ganymede, tugs and pulls on Io, causing it to be squished and squeezed to the extreme during an orbit around its home planet.
This massive tidal force causes Io’s crust to distort by as much as 100 meters in either direction. Imagine a 100 meter-high tide! Made of land! This causes an extreme amount of friction and tidal heating beneath the crust, essentially cooking Io via squeezing and tugging. As a result, it regularly blows its top in spectacular fashion.
Just another day in the continuing evolution of our solar system!
If the moon were only 1 pixel on your screen, how big would the rest of the solar system be?
Just click this link, I beg you, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Absolutely amazing. Fantastic work by designer Josh Worth.
For a a different look at the problem of cosmic distance, check out my video “How Big is the Solar System?”:
And for lots more fun ways to look at the scale of the universe maybe watch this one called (naturally) "The Scale of the Universe":
Full episode “Space” HERE.
For your health!
Incredible, beautiful visual resources for exploring the ever-growing family of exoplanets.
In addition to the great tools linked above, I’d recommend The New York Times' interactive feature on the Kepler Tally of exoplanets, which I’ve featured before.
Want more exoplanet goodness? I did a two-part video series for It’s Okay To Be Smart on YouTube:
More people climbed Mount Everest last year than have ever been to space. Why is it so hard to go to space?
Curious Minds asks, and answers, in this video.
Dang those pesky rockets and pesky gravity resulting in their pesky heaviness!