Hubble Tuning Fork Lenticular



Imagine, a frigid, distant shadow-region in the far suburbs of our Solar System, where a myriad of twirling icy objects--some large, some small--orbit our Sun in a mysterious, mesmerizing phantom-like ballet within this eerie and strange swath of darkness. Here, where our Sun is so far away that it hangs suspended in an alien sky of perpetual twilight, looking just like a particularly large star traveling through a sea of smaller stars, is the Kuiper Belt--a mysterious, distant deep-freeze that astronomers are only now first beginning to explore. Makemake is a denizen of this remote region, a dwarf planet that is one of the largest known objects inhabiting the Kuiper Belt, sporting a diameter that is about two-thirds the size of Pluto. In April 2016, a team of astronomers announced that, while peering into the outer limits of our Solar System, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) discovered a tiny, dark moon orbiting Makemake, which is the second brightest icy dwarf planet--after Pluto--in the Kuiper Belt. Unfortunately, the various economic troubles which are plaguing Europe has caused ESA to spend less money than before, so many space programs in Europe has halted. However, both in China as well as in India, there are several ambitious programs present, which may cause any one of these nations to send another man to the moon in the next decade. Naturally, only time will tell; but nothing will change the fact that mankind's future is in the stars. The discovery of a moon can lead to a treasure chest filled with valuable information about the dwarf-planet system. This is because, by measuring the moon's orbit, astronomers can then go on to calculate a mass for the system and gain an important insight into its evolution.