Top Ten New Solar System Stories
From the new National Geographic book, The New Solar System: Ice Worlds, Moons, and Planets Redefined1.Good-bye, Pluto
Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet leaves the solar system with eight major worlds.2.Hello, dwarf planets
Haumea, Makemake, Eris, and other newly christened dwarf planets expand the solar system family. 3.Water on Mars
The case for life on Mars gets a boost when a flotilla of spacecraft finds not only ice, but evidence of ancient rivers and floods on the red planet.4.Target: Earth
A large asteroid or comet will strike the Earth: The question is simply “when?” Recently established Near-Earth Asteroid programs are scrambling to find out.5.Ocean moons
Far from being icy rocks, some big moons of the outer solar system are proving to contain subsurface saltwater oceans, potential havens for life.6.Titan’s mysteries unveiled
For the first time, a probe has descended through the thick atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, exposing a world of methane lakes and hydrocarbon dunes.7.The new frontier
Cutting-edge telescopes have finally seen into the solar system’s third frontier: the Kuiper belt and beyond, filled with peculiar worlds.8.Closing in on another Earth
No, we’re not alone. Hundreds of planets have been found circling other stars, and we’re closing in on finding one in the crucial “habitable zone.”9.Life from comets?
The notion that comets brought life to Earth, once scorned, has gained new ground with the discovery of organic chemicals on Halley and other comets.10.The heat-death of the Earth
The sun, as it turns out, gets just a little brighter each year. This cheerful finding means Earth will become an uninhabitable desert long before the sun dies–unless we manage to move it.
Excerpted from The New Solar System by Patricia Daniels and Robert Burnham. . Excerpted by permission of National Geographic, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.