The bitterly fought Pluto wars of a few years back showed that even the experts disagree on what is and what isn’t a planet. One thing there’s no quarrel about, of course: a planet is, by definition, something that orbits a star.
Schoolchildren by the thousands wept when Pluto was officially banished from the ranks of the major planets back in 2006, but for the asteroids, demotion to the interplanetary minor leagues is very old news. When Ceres was discovered in 1801 during a search of the mysteriously empty space between Mars and Jupiter, astronomers were convinced they’d found a new planet.
NASA crashed a rocket and a satellite into the moon’s surface on Friday morning, a $79 million mission that could determine if there is water on the moon. NASA televised live images of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, as it crashed into a crater near the moon’s south pole.
Scientists have discovered the first confirmed Earthlike planet outside our solar system, they announced Wednesday. “This is the first confirmed rocky planet in another system,” astronomer Artie Hatzes told CNN, contrasting the solid planet with gaseous ones like Jupiter and Saturn