Space Findings: Ghana, Exomoon

Ghana in Space

This is a press conference and the man speaking is part of the team behind the satellite

Credit: GhanaWeb TV

Ghana is entering the space race. After taking a trip to the ISS thanks to Space X, Ghanasat-1 has launched into space. The satellite was built by students at the All Nations University and will monitor the nation’s coast. This is a fantastic development for Ghana and will aid their nation the more they develop their technology. Let’s go over a few developments in Africa since Ghana is not alone in the space business:

  • South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco have all launched satellites
  • Nigeria has been using its satellites to track Boko Haram in the northeast of the country
  • Using its satellite, Kenya discovered aquifers which are now being used
  • South Africa has astronauts
  • Angola is supposed to launch a satellite very soon. I’ll check back in on that when it happens
  • Even the African Union has expressed interest in a space center.

Kenya’s aquifers

African Union Space Center

Neptune’s Ammonia

Researchers examining the compounds present in Neptune’s atmosphere have stumbled upon a new molecule. When the water and ammonia mix at freezing temperatures they tend to form ammonia hemihydrate. This is equally true for other ice giants like Uranus. The lead author on the study was Victor Naden-Robinson, a post-graduate at the University of Edinburgh.

The First Exomoon

Kepler-1625b i. That’s the name of what scientists believe to be the first exomoon, a moon orbiting a planet outside of our solar system. The planet is Kepler-1625b and is over 4,000 light years away, far removed from where we’ll be going anytime in the near future. Usually they would be too small to detect however the size of the moon is around Neptune and the planet near Jupiter. These are the typical sizes of exoplanets which have been found throughout the past two decades. The relation to Neptune’s size has garnered the nickname, Neptmoon (or Nepmoon).

If you remember the movie Avatar you may remember the location it took place on. It’s not a planet but a habitable moon orbiting a gas giant and that’s the principle the scientists are hoping to test. If you could find habitable moons around these exoplanets then you’ll not only find life but environments for humans to travel too. Just a thought. The discovery was made by Dr. David Kipping, grad student Alex Teachey and Allan Schmidt (who I’ve seen credited as a citizen scientist) from Colombia University.

Naming Pluto

The dwarf planet of Pluto is getting names. Different regions have been given official names by the IAU from a combination of names proposed by the public and from the New Horizons team. I grabbed some notable names but you can look at the full list below:

  • The Tombaugh Regio for Clyde Tombaugh, the man that discovered Pluto in 1930. This is the portion called The Heart.
  • Al-Idrisi Montes after the Arab mapmaker Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi
  • Adlivun Cavus after the Inuit underworld Adlivun
  • Tartarus Dorsa, a ridge named after the Greek underworld Tartarus
  • Voyager Terra after the Voyager crafts

Now don’t worry the Cthulhu Regio hasn’t been renamed (yet) but if it is I will definitely 1) never stop calling it so and 2) pester the IAU until it’s renamed. For those who are unaware, the Cthulhu Regio is the large black area to the west of the Tombaugh Regio. Keep reading for any updates on Pluto.

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