Saturday, 18 November 2017

There Are Nine Planets in Our Solar System

CAPT Anni Potts

But are there? It may be what a great many of us were taught at school, but is this true? The simple answer is no … well, probably no. It's a bit of an ongoing argument and quite a controversial one, too, but the general consensus is no.
Of the original nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, it is the latter that had its planetary status repeatedly argued, usually because of its size. Finally, in August 2006, the International Astronomical Union sat down to debate the issue and decided upon three criteria to which any object must comply in order to be considered a planet.
  1. A planet has to orbit the Sun.
  2. A planet needs enough gravity to pull itself into a sphere.
  3. A planet needs to have cleared its neighbourhood (or orbit) of other objects. That means it must be gravitationally dominant and that there are no other bodies of a comparable size in its orbit other than its satellites.
On that basis, of the traditional nine planets, eight of them met those criteria. However, Pluto failed on the third because its mass is only 0.07 times that of the mass of the other objects in its neighbourhood. (In other words, there's a lot of crap in its backyard.) As a result, it was it was relegated to being a dwarf planet instead.
At that same meeting, astronomers examined many of the other bodies in our solar system and reclassified them too. As a result, we now officially have eight planets and five dwarf planets in our solar system, but even that may change.

Dwarf Planets

Eris is the largest of our dwarf planets, although some sources say it is slightly smaller than Pluto. Discovered in 2005, because it was deemed larger than Pluto, it was considered to be the tenth planet for a while. Eris is particularly fascinating because of its orbit which is not 'round' but elliptical and on a very different plane to the rest of the planets and dwarf planets in our solar system.
Pluto is next in size and the most renown of the dwarf planets. Then comes Haumea was only recently discovered (in 2004). It is about a third the size of Pluto and only just has enough gravity to keep itself from falling apart. However, despite its size, it does have its own moons.

Ceres (discovered in 1801) is the smallest of the dwarf planets and was previously categorised as an asteroid. (In fact, it was the first asteroid ever discovered.) Like most of the dwarf planets, it's an icy world and it lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It may also have an ocean buried under its ice.
Makemake is another fairly recent discovery (2005) and is about two-thirds the size of Pluto and deosn't appear to have any moons. With a surface temperature of about −243.2°C, it is covered with methane, ethane, and possibly nitrogen ices.
Ceres (discovered in 1801) is the smallest of the dwarf planets and was previously categorised as an asteroid. (In fact, it was the first asteroid ever discovered.) Like most of the dwarf planets, it's an icy world and it lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It may also have an ocean buried under its ice.

However, that's not the end of it because there are hundreds of other known bodies in our solar system that could also be dwarf planets. So in answer to the question, how many planets, dwarf or otherwise, are there in our solar system, the answer is that we don't really know.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

A Jurassic Adventure

CDT4 Sandy Joe Reid (Age 5)

One day, Grandma, Ziggly, the CO, Richard and I went on an expedition in the shuttle to study the sun, but a sun flare hit the shuttle and we finished up going back in time 200 million years … to the time of the Jurassic world.
Grandma and Ziggly were a bit shocked, but the CO and I both said, "Cool," and we wanted to explore straight away, but Grandma and Ziggly said we must learn a bit about dinosaurs first. I told them that dinosaurs were my expertise and I know everything about them. So, the CO ordered us to explore but said we had to stay together, and we all said it was a good idea.
We all went out to explore and the first thing we heard was some rustling high up in the conifer trees. To begin with we thought it was a bird, but when Ziggly looked below at some large feet, she pointed and screamed.
I knew instantly what it was. I went over to have a better look. The CO told me to be careful, but I knew that it would not eat me because it was a herbivore. A massive, huge Brachiosaurus.
When Richard saw exactly how big they were, he ordered us back to the shuttle, but I wanted to at least take a video of this massive beast.
Richard said that this place was not safe for us to be, so he told Ziggly and Grandma to work on the sun, to get us back. They found out they could make the sun have another flare by shooting into the sun while driving into it; so, Richard told them to make it so.
It worked, however only got us back to 65 million years ago: the Cretaceous period. We landed and went out to have a look and found a very large deserted nest. It had lots of broken egg shells but it still had one full egg. Grandma said it was an egg that could not hatch, so we transported it to the shuttle so we could study it. But then we came face to face with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. You could see it look at us as though we were its dinner as it is a meat eater.
We ran like the wind to get back to the shuttle and still had to set off very fast as the T. Rex would still eat a space ship if it knows humans are on board. We had to drive to a different part of the world and we landed near where China would be in our time.
We had a look around and met up with a family of Tyrannosaurus Dilongs. The Mummy and Daddy were no bigger than a large cat and they had about ten babies that were very naughty and kept running into the shuttle and it took ages to get them off.
We then saw a porthole open and we heard a voice we knew. Holly and her team had managed to find a way of getting us back. We got into the shuttle and drove into the porthole, which took us back to the ship, but we had not realised that two of the baby T. Dilongs had hidden in the shuttle. Ziggly and Grandma agreed that we must put them in the ship's garden. Richard said he hoped they were two boys or two girls. I don't know why, because I hoped they were one of each.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

CADET ACTIVITY: Can you find the North Star?

Polaris, the North Star, is an important navigational star because its position in the sky is almost exactly (within a few degrees) lined up with the rotational axis of the Earth. This means that no matter where you are on the Earth (so long as you're in the Northern Hemisphere) if you face toward Polaris you are facing North. Finding Polaris is an incredibly useful night time navigation technique that's helped everyone from the Egyptians to the Vikings find there way on the open seas. But it also is one of the easiest stars to find. Find the constellation of Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper. It is perhaps the most easily recognizable constellation in the night sky, and looks like a large spoon or perhaps a wheel barrow.
It is composed of seven bright stars - three in the handle and four in the head of the spoon. If you can find it in the picture above, great. If not, look at the next photo.
Next, imagine the line connecting the two front stars of the Big Dipper, (marked in red). If you continue this line off to the upper right, the first bright star you come to is Polaris, the North Star.
Can you find the North Star in the night sky? (

Saturday, 28 October 2017

NASA's IXS Enterprise

Old news, perhaps, but this is NASA'S futuristic star ship, the IXS Enterprise. Named after the Star Trek's USS Enterprise, it is a conceptual superluminal spacecraft designed by NASA scientist Dr. Harold G. White and revealed at SpaceVision 2013, designed for the goal of achieving warp travel.
The conceptual spacecraft would be a modified version of the Alcubierre drive* which uses exotic matter (not to be confused with antimatter) to travel faster than light.
While the concept had been out since 2013 the design of IXS Enterprise was popularized in June 2014 after a series of media outlets reported on the conceptual artwork done by Dutch artist Mark Rademaker in collaboration with NASA. According to Mark Rademaker, over 1,600 hours have been spent on the conceptual artwork that he created.

* The Alcubierre drive is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Role of the Chief of Wellbeing and Counselling

LT Erika Stroem, Chief of Well-being and Counselling

The mind is a mystery… People have been trying for years to work out on what makes us tick …
There are so many avenues we could talk about, but I shall concentrate on one at the moment—a dilemma I come across very often in my talks with the crew, namely, how they feel about being offended by someone.
More often than not the client focuses on how THEY feel about the situation … Am I being childish? Have I gone OTT with my response? Would I have done better just accepting what they have thrown at me?
Mostly the answer would be, “mo, no and no”, however, there are normally two sides (or more) to every story and until you have heard both/all sides, you have no way of giving sound advice as not only is the mind a mystery, it can be a funny old soul too. There is nothing worse than giving wrong advice as this can lead to all sorts of complications and as the person is not in sound mind at that time, it can also lead to misinterpretations.
Sometimes all can be sorted by just listening and often, if you can nudge them in the right direction, the client often answers their own questions. Needless to say, there are times where we have to go a step further and sort some kind of mediation. A far better way of getting true facts is putting them in front of each other to explain what or how each of them 'put it, took it and absorbed it', as so many times I have come across something that has been said and it has been taken the wrong way. It could even be that the person giving it out did not realise (did not think) they were doing any harm, but this can be construed as bullying and it needs to be nipped in the bud, and the perpetrator needs to be made aware that they are doing it. But be prepared; mediation can also confirm that the accuser is just stirring trouble for someone.
This is just one of the more simple tasks I have in a day’s work.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Simple Star Trek Cookies

The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle

For full details, please visit the blog at the original article:

 You will need four cutters to make every cookie in the Star Trek collection. You can try them all or just pick a fave. Try eBay if you don’t have the Wilton boy cutter. It’s discontinued but its easy to find if you look around.

To make the Starfleet Insignia cookie, simply trimmed a star cutter.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Role of a Chief Medical Officer

LT Erika Stroem, Second Officer & Chief Counsellor

Having just done an exam for medical, it asked what it means to be Chief Medical Officer, so I had to do a poem on it.

I am Chief of Medical
On board a Starfleet ship.
Come and see my sick-bay,
It will be worth the trip.

My doctors and my nurses
Will care for all your pain.
They will not leave your side
Until you’re right again.

But I’m not like any old Doctor …
As I am based in space,
So it’s not just humans I see to.
I deal with any race.

I come across weird diseases
That can really drive me insane,
And I need to find an antidote
To make the crew better again.

Captain's ill? But Captain's stubborn
"“Don’t worry, I’m on my way,
So go to bed and do as you’re told
'Cause I out-rank you today."

In simple, I deal with all sorts—
Healing, surgery, concocter,
Or should I make it easier…
Damn it … I’m a Doctor.