There are a couple of astronomy news things this week that I wanted to share. It's all pretty exciting stuff.
But first, let me remind you to vote on the poll in the sidebar. Every Tuesday I give a little lesson in astronomy and I let you, the readers, decide on what I'm gonna write about. There is always room for suggestions, so please make them in any comment thread. A history of previous Astro-Lessons can be found under the Astronomy Topics heading. (Still working on getting that all updated.)
On to the News:
- Endeavour's last flight scheduled for April 29
- Titan might be hiding a liquid water ocean
There is speculation that this ocean could be yet more methane, but the recent modeling supports a water (H2O) ocean, making it the best fitting hypothesis so far. It isn't a final blow yet though, the only way to know for sure is to get there and start digging. Another explanation could be an interaction with a large comet or asteroid.
- Pluto has a large poisonous atmosphere
The gas would be extremely cold at about -364 F (-220 C), and the atmosphere is likely generated by solar heating. When Pluto is closer to the Sun, parts of the surface would evaporate into a gaseous atmosphere and freeze again as Pluto moved away. Pluto's last closest pass was in 1989 and it takes 248 years to complete an orbit. More on this discovery can be read on Space.com.
- Hubble is turning 21!
Of course there are lots of other good stories out there, these are just a couple of the great ones. Other stories to check out: Sunspots spawn gigantic solar flare (with a cool video); Black forests could exist on a world with two suns; and Electromagnetic currents link Enceladus and Saturn.