Put a Ring on It

Mar’s largest moon, Phobos, has an inward-moving orbit that is sending it on a path toward Mars’ gravitational grasp. This could cause the moon to break apart and disintegrate into a planetary ring some 20 million to 40 million years from now, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Researchers used a combination of simulations and models to analyze how Phobos’ orbit may evolve. They took a close look at the physical stresses Mars exerts on Phobos as the moon’s orbit causes it to gradually veer inward.

Phobos is a delicate moon with lots of pores and rubble on its surface which could contribute to it eventually crumbling to pieces under the red planet’s powerful gravitational pull. These fragmented pieces would then orbit Mars, forming a planetary ring.

Saturn’s rings are thought to have formed in a similar way, and some scientists speculate that Neptune’s moon Triton might be falling apart causing it to reach the same doomed fate.

The destruction of a planet’s moon or another passing object, such as an asteroid or comet, is one of the most common ways in which planetary ring systems form.

Something, Something, Hype Train…Here’s the Civil War Trailer!


Captain America: Civil War will see the Avengers turn against one another in a fight over government oversight. On one side is Captain America, who is told that the world can no longer tolerate his un-checked vigilantism but that’s not the way he sees it. On the other side is Iron Man, who views the limitations placed on them as what separates the heroes from the bad guys, and also want to punch Steve in his face.

The havoc of the past films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems seem to have left civilians anxious about these super-powerful dudes roaming the planet. And the government has drafted legislation that would require would-be heroes to prove their goodwill by working under strict oversight.

The movie is directed by The Winter Soldier filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo. The story was inspired by the seven-part story-line written by Mark Millar in 2006-07 which pitted heroes against heroes in a crossover event that had the entire world of characters choosing sides behind either Captain America or Iron Man.

Gaze Upon the Skull of Pooh-Bear

Fans of the Hundred-Acre Wood rejoice! The skull of the bear that inspired A.A. Milne’s classic “Winnie the Pooh” stories is now on public display at the Royal College of Surgeon’s Hunterian Museum in London.

The skull belonged to Winnipeg, “Winnie” for short, a female black bear who lived at the London Zoo. Lieutenant Harry Colebourn of the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps purchased Winnie when she was a cub from a hunter in Canada prior to World War I. He then brought the cub overseas with him to England, where she became the unofficial mascot of his regiment.

When Colebourn had to travel to France in 1914, he left Winnie in the care of the London Zoo. The zoo is where a little boy named Christopher Robin, author A.A. Milne’s son, met Winnie and became enamored with the silly old bear. He named his toy bear after Winnie and the rest is history.

Winnie died of old age in 1934. Her skull has been in the possession of the museum ever since, but this is the first time it will be on public display.

Museum staff saw the skull “with fresh eyes” when they recently reviewed some of the items in their collection. The skull’s unveiling also comes shortly after the publication of Finding Winnie, a children’s book about the true story behind Winnie the Pooh. The author, Lindsay Mattock, is also Colebourn’s great-granddaughter.

Go The Distance

A couple of weeks ago, astronomers spotted what they believe is the most distant object in the solar system  a dwarf planet some 9.5 billion miles from the sun. Dubbed V774104, the object is between 310 miles and 620 miles across about half Pluto’s size and about three times farther from the sun.

V774104 is about 103 times farther from the sun than Earth, and scientists’ early guess is that it is part of a rare group of ‘sednoids,’ objects whose orbital paths exist entirely outside the Kuiper Belt and extend into the Oort Cloud, the boundary of our solar system. Only two confirmed sednoids exist, Sedna and 2012 VP113 but scientists suspect there are more.

If V774104 proves to be one, it would provide astronomers with further support for the theory that an undiscovered Planet X is lurking in the outer fringes of our solar system. The gravitational pull from a Planet X would help explain the highly elliptical orbits of the sednoids.

Until astronomers spotted V774104, the dwarf planet Eris was considered the solar system’s most distant object. Eris is about 97 astronomical units from the sun, while V774104 is 103 AUs (the unit of length equal to the distance between Earth and the sun).

Another One Bites The Dust

Last month was the warmest October ever recorded and the sixth straight month to set record temperatures. It also was the first month to surpass the average temperature by more than 1 degree Celsius, according to new NASA data revealed Tuesday.

October was 1.04 degrees Celsius (1.87 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the base period of 1951 to 1980 used as a reference to measure the long-term average. That marks the greatest departure from a month’s average heat since weather record-keeping began in 1880, beating January 2007 as the most anomalous month by 0.07 degrees Celsius.

Surpassing the 1-degree mark is significant because it puts the Earth halfway to the internationally accepted limit for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change such as drought, mass migration and superstorms. Putting a stop to climate change before it reaches the 2-degree milestone is the main goal of the Paris Climate Summit beginning Nov. 3.

October’s heat comes in a banner year of record-breaking weather events. July was the hottest month ever recorded. In the United States this year, Florida recorded its hottest March to May.California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington all logged their hottest Junes.

The shockingly high temperatures in October all but guarantees that 2015 will be the world’s hottest year ever recorded, beating the record set in…2014.