Note: All the links here are numbered, and a complete list is supplied at the end.
A quick note:
The next chapter in the story of how our solar system formed will be up tonight, or at worst early as I can manage tomorrow, its been a long wait I know, but I hope you enjoy it.
[Update: the next post is up, or the penultimate draft at least, but because I started it earlier than this one it will appear below this post]
For the moment though, I'd like to direct your attention to the Dawn mission, which is gearing up for the first of its two encounters with suspected protoplanets left over from our solar systems construction. In July 2011 Dawn will reach Vesta, a world that just missed out on being a dwarf planet because an asteroid impact has turned its south pole into a gigantic crater, ruining its spherical shape. Its an object apparently covered in frozen basaltic lava, which suggests a story that could help us understand how these embryonic planets came about.
Then in 2015 Dawn will reach Ceres, a dwarf planet, and largest denizen if the asteroid belt. Ceres is thought to be mainly composed of water ice, and could have hosted an ocean of liquid water beneath its crust for billions of years- its even just possible that, way down deep inside, remnants of that ocean survive to this day.
Click here for a rundown on Dawns science objectives.
In other news, our solar system got slightly older last week (you know what I mean, or you will if you follow the link), more details merge on how supernovas supplied the heavier elements that went into making our solar system, and a star system that looks a lot like our own has been identified.
Catch you all tonight!
List of links: