NASA Moonbuggy Race Assembly



Full moons make for a wonderful setting for criminal activity, as we find in detective novels. It's that night when the gruesome murderer commits the ghastly crime and is seen by a non-descript, aged neighbor. The neighbor's claim to credibility in the witness box is the fact that there was a full moon on the night in question and everything was there for all to see; it was only a matter of chance that he or she was the only one to spot it! Full moon nights also offer the perfect cover for the snooping detective to hide behind the bush with his dim-witted assistant in tow. 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. Ganymede: Ganymede is both the largest moon of Jupiter, our Solar System's planetary behemoth, as well as the largest moon in our entire Solar system. Observations of Ganymede by the HST in 2015 suggested the existence of a subsurface saline ocean. This is because patterns in auroral belts and rocking of the magnetic field hinted at the presence of an ocean. It is estimated to be approximately 100 kilometers deep with a surface situated below a crust of 150 kilometers.