Make Make Moons

Makemake is a classical Kuiper belt object (KBO), [a] which means its orbit lies far enough from Neptune to remain stable over the age of the Solar System. Unlike plutinos, which can cross Neptune’s orbit due to their 2:3 resonance with the planet, the classical objects have perihelia further from the Sun, free from Neptune’s perturbation. Such objects have relatively low eccentricities (e below 0. 2) and orbit the Sun in much the same way the planets do. Makemake, however, is a member of the “dynamically hot” class of classical KBOs, meaning that it has a high inclination compared to others in its population. Makemake is, probably coincidentally, near the 11:6 resonance with Neptune.

These icy moon-worlds are the next important step in the scientific quest for the Holy Grail of life beyond our own planet. It is a strange era in human history. Astronomers have collected large amounts of data revealing bewitching clues that habitable ocean moon-worlds may be out there, within the family of our very own Star. Humanity is poised at the beginning of a new era. Sophisticated new technology might very soon answer the profound, and very ancient question, "Are we alone?" Ganymede is larger than Mercury, which is the innermost--and smallest--major planet in our Solar System. The surface area of Ganymede is more than half that of the land area of Earth, and it provides scientists with a wealth of data concerning a great variety of surface features. The more recently imaged plume erupts to a height of 62 miles above Europa's surface, while the one seen in 2014 was estimated to rise almost half as high at 30 miles above its surface. Both erupting plumes are located in an unusually warm region of this icy small world. This relatively toasty area shows some strange features that appear to be cracks in the moon's shell of ice, that were first observed back in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Planetary scientists propose that, like Enceladus, this could be a sign of water erupting from a sloshing global ocean of liquid water, swirling around in the moon's interior, that is hidden beneath its crust of surface ice.