Moons behaving badly: NASA makes press call for ‘surprising’ observations

Posted: May 31, 2015 by tallbloke in Analysis, Astronomy, Astrophysics
Tags: ,

moon-cartoonWASHINGTON, May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 3, to discuss the Hubble Space Telescope’s surprising observations of how Pluto’s moons behave, and how these new discoveries are being used in the planning for the New Horizons Pluto flyby in July.

Participants in the teleconference will be:

  • John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
  • Mark Showalter, senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California
  • Douglas Hamilton, professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park
  • John Spencer, scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado
  • Heidi Hammel, executive vice president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington

To participate by phone, reporters must contact Felicia Chou at 202-358-0257 or and provide their media affiliation no later than 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

For information about NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

For information about Pluto and NASA’s New Horizons mission, visit:

Logo –

  1. tallbloke says:

    Oh noes. Not ‘surprised’ scientists again… 🙂

  2. oldbrew says:

    M Simon: which half?

  3. oldbrew: the half they are telling the public. all of it.

  4. M Simon says:

    harrydhuffman (@harrydhuffman) says:
    May 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Good answer. With cannabis the stories touted are the “danger” stories. “Value” stories are less often mentioned and until about 10 years ago they got no mention at all.

  5. Larry says:

    For a “minor” dwarf he sure getting a lot of attention!

  6. oldbrew says:

    ‘How NASA’s New Horizons Mission to Pluto Works (Infographic)’

    ‘New Horizons will not stop at Pluto, but will slingshot past it to encounter an object called PT1 in January, 2019 before heading out of the solar system.

    New Horizons got a speed boost from Jupiter’s gravity in 2007. Without it, the probe would not have reached Pluto until the year 2036.’

    harrydhuffman (@harrydhuffman) says: May 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm
    oldbrew: the half they are telling the public. all of it.

    Good one 🙂

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Since it isn’t officially a “planet” any more, I think we ought to stop ALL funding for Pluto related astronomical research. I mean, really, it’s just some space rock now…

    Of course, they can have the funding back if they find it’s a planet again…


  8. Zeke says:

    They probably all have magnetic fields! (:

  9. Wayne Job says:

    Fields of science, cosmology,particle physics,etc, need to back track a hundred years and correct some faults in original thinking, then and only then will they be able to move forward. Removing the imaginary particles borrowed from the non existent aether and the imaginary friends of dark matter and dark energy. It is less than half that is right, this coming half a year may put a spanner in the works, all going well.

  10. Zeke says:

    They have auroras.

    They have stark hemispheric differences.

    The IR cameras have picked up markings.

    One of them is geologically active like Io.

    We used to win coffee cups here, so just slap me and I will stop.

  11. […] tallbloke on Moons behaving badly: NASA mak… […]

  12. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    “Showalter also found three of Pluto’s moons are presently locked together in resonance, meaning there is a precise ratio for their orbital periods. “If you were sitting on Nix, you would see that Styx orbits Pluto twice for every three orbits made by Hydra,” noted Hamilton.”

  13. oldbrew says:

    This is due for revision when they reach Pluto.

  14. oldbrew says:

    And now the science paper:

    ‘Nix and Hydra rotate chaotically, driven by the large torques of the Pluto–Charon binary.’

    Let’s see the numbers 😛
    Or watch the simulated video, looks weird (see link – ‘Videos’ tab)

  15. oldbrew says:

    ‘Two chaotically tumbling Pluto moons’

    Report: ‘Virtually all large moons, as well as small moons in close-in orbits, keep one hemisphere facing their parent planet. This means that the satellite’s rotation is perfectly matched to the orbital period. This is not coincidental, but the consequence of gravitational tides between moon and planet. (Hyperion, which orbits Saturn, is the only other solar-system example of chaotic rotation; it is due to the combined gravitational tugs of the planet and it largest moon, Titan).’

    Pluto’s ‘other half’ Charon follows the ‘perfect match’ pattern: its orbit and rotation periods are the same, but in addition its rotation period is identical to that of Pluto (binary system).

    Re Hyperion they have applied ‘chaos theory’ according to this:

    ‘Although the fleeting Voyager encounters found Hyperion to be rotating non-synchronously with a period of about 13 days, chaos theory applied to Voyager data and subsequent Earth-based observations of the moon shows that it is actually tumbling in an essentially unpredictable manner. Hyperion is the only object known in the solar system to be in chaotic rotation.’

    They may be overlooking something. Hyperion’s orbital period around Saturn is 21.276 days, so a case can be made that its rotation rate is 13:21 with its orbit, in other words a Phi ratio (13 and 21 being consecutive Fibonacci numbers).

    BBC report:

  16. oldbrew says:

    Pluto’s 5 Moons Explained: How They Measure Up (Infographic) by