New Views of the Solar System

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The set's title, "Pluto—Explored! We thought about reproducing the old stamp with the new title, but we thought with these images coming back, that was the most interesting thing, this time we're really seeing [Pluto] in any kind of detail. In addition to the stamp panes themselves, the USPS is also offering a number of collectibles, available through its website, including framed art pieces, ceremony programs and first-day-of-issue postmarked envelopes covers.

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The public also has 60 days to request first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail, free of charge for quantities of up to After purchasing the new stamps at a post office or via the USPS website and affixing them, the envelopes should be addressed to themselves or others and placed in a larger envelope addressed to: Pluto—Explored! After applying a first-day-of-issue postmark, the USPS will return the envelopes through the mail.

Requests must be mailed by July 31, May 31, — You can now embark on a tour of our solar system — from the innermost planet Mercury to the dwarf planet Pluto — just by visiting your local United States Post Office. The Webb telescope will be able to measure the surface chemistry of Pluto, its moons, and many other bodies that lie in the distant Kuiper Belt along with Pluto. Since its launch in , the Hubble Space Telescope has tracked many comets on their journeys through the inner solar system, and traced their orbits to their farthest reaches.

These icy wanderers, remnants of the debris cloud that once encircled our newborn Sun, give astronomers clues to the formation and evolution of our solar system. Most comets spend their lives beyond the orbit of Neptune, where they were pushed by gravitational interactions with the newly formed giant planets during the early development of the solar system.

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Occasionally, gravitational interactions with one another result in the orbit of one of these objects being perturbed until it swings into the inner solar system. When a comet gets within the orbit of Mars, the Sun's light warms the comet's ices. The ices begin to evaporate directly into a gas, and the comet brightens. At that point, the Hubble Space Telescope can observe the comet, detecting changes in brightness, noting expulsion of gases, and analyzing its composition.

Scientists can learn much about the building blocks of our newborn solar system by studying the composition of comets, but they can also examine interactions between comets and other celestial bodies to glean clues about planet formation and composition. A series of Hubble observations spanning the year after impact revealed some surprising results, including unexpectedly low amounts of water in Jupiter's atmosphere. Hubble observed Comet ISON as it made its first voyage to the inner solar system, contributing its study of the comet's activity to a wealth of worldwide observations.

Hubble created a striking image of Comet Siding Spring's flyby of Mars.

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Hubble continues to observe comets as they travel through our solar system, bearing witness to the eventual destruction of those that edge too close to the Sun. Observing in Our Own Celestial Backyard. On This Page.

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Storms in our Solar System. What has Hubble taught us about storms in the solar system? Astronomers have followed the downsizing of Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot since the s. Wong and A. Planetary Missions. In Octobber , a large regional dust storm on Mars appears as the brighter cloudy region in the middle of the planet's disk.

Bell Cornell University and M. These bubbles form as a result of the interaction between the sun's rotation and its magnetic field. As the sun spins, its magnetic field churns and twists out in the heliosheath.

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The folded field bunches up on itself, causing lines of magnetic force to crisscross and reconnect, forming the sea of bubbles. The sausage-shaped bubbles are gigantic, measuring about million miles million km across.

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And there are a lot of them. He added that an observer flying aboard one of the Voyagers would not be able to see the bubbles, because the gas in the area is too diffuse. Researchers are confident that this interpretation best fits the Voyager data, though they'd love some more information from newer, more advanced spacecraft as well. So the team is pushing for new missions to further explore this enigmatic region. But, she added, "we need more sensitive instruments with a better suite to really uncover what's happening.

Voyager 2's view of solar system's edge will be unique

We are just scraping the surface. Astronomers had imagined that a smooth, laminar heliosheath acted as a pretty stout shield around the solar system, keeping out many fast-moving particles known as galactic cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are a threat to astronauts , as they can slam into spaceflyers' cells and damage their DNA. Earth's atmosphere attenuates cosmic rays, shielding folks on the ground from their worst effects.