The Shape of the Solar System

By Marcus Woo
NASA JPL

 

When Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis was selected for the Voyager mission in 1971, he became the team’s youngest principal investigator of an instrument, responsible for the Low Energy Charged Particles (LECP) instrument. It would measure the ions coursing around and between the planets, as well as those beyond. Little did he know, though, that more than 40 years later, both Voyager 1 and 2 still would be speeding through space, continuing to literally reshape our view of the solar system.

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The Fizzy Seas of Titan

By Marcus Woo
NASA JPL

With clouds, rain, seas, lakes and a nitrogen-filled atmosphere, Saturn’s moon Titan appears to be one of the worlds most similar to Earth in the solar system. But it’s still alien; its seas and lakes are full not of water but liquid methane and ethane.

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MicroMaxx® Launch Rods

William Orvis
LUNAR# 309

If you bought one of the original MicroMacxx® rockets, it came with its own launch pad, launch controller, and igniter holder. If your club has a set of standard launch pads, this pad and controller does not really work well with them. Also, newer MicroMaxx® rockets with clustered engines don’t work at all with the single igniter holders in the original pad.

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The MonsterRack

William orvis
LUNAR# 309 1/2

Those of you, who know me, know I like rack rockets. A rack rocket is like a multi stage rocket, except that the stages do not separate. There is only one stage and the engines pop out the back as they burn, lighting the next engine in turn. It takes some special engineering to make these rockets work as the fire from the second stage and up is playing over the fins and the wooden rails that the fins are attached to and that align the stack of engines.

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What It’s Like on a TRAPPIST-1 Planet

By Marcus Woo
JPL

With seven Earth-sized planets that could harbor liquid water on their rocky, solid surfaces, the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system might feel familiar. Yet the system, recently studied by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is unmistakably alien: compact enough to fit inside Mercury’s orbit, and surrounds an ultra-cool dwarf star—not much bigger than Jupiter and much cooler than the sun.

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Solar Eclipse Provides Coronal Glimpse

By Marcus Woo
NASA JPL

On August 21, 2017, North Americans will enjoy a rare treat: The first total solar eclipse visible from the continent since 1979. The sky will darken and the temperature will drop, in one of the most dramatic cosmic events on Earth. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime show indeed. But it will also be an opportunity to do some science.

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