Earth's moon could become a planet




 
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Earth's moon could become a planet
 
August 19th, 2006  
The Cooler King
 

Topic: Earth's moon could become a planet


Earth's moon could become a planet
Earth's moon could become a planet

By Robert Roy Britt
SPACE.com

(SPACE.com) -- If astronomers approve a newly proposed planet definition next week, things could get really strange. Sure, asteroid Ceres will become a planet. Pluto's moon Charon will become a planet.
But we're talking really strange.
Eventually, if Earth and its moon survive long enough, the moon will have to be reclassified as a planet, said Gregory Laughlin, an extrasolar planet researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The new definition, proposed this week by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), basically says every round object orbiting the sun is a planet, unless it orbits another planet. But there is a big caveat: If the center of gravity, called the barycenter, is outside the larger object, then the smaller object is a planet. That wording elevates Pluto's moon Charon to planethood, an idea some astronomers have criticized.
But here's the thing. Earth's moon was born in a catastrophic collision more than 4 billion years ago. It started out very close to the planet but has been moving away ever since. It's currently drifting away about 1.5 inches (3.74 centimeters) every year.
For now, the system's barycenter is inside Earth. But that will change.
"If the Earth and moon do survive, then the barycenter will eventually move outside the Earth as the moon recedes," Laughlin told SPACE.com. "At that point the Moon would be promoted to planetary status." [What would we call it?]
None of this would occur for a few billion years. And Earth and the moon would have to survive a host of remote catastrophe scenarios along with the predicted swelling of the sun into a red giant, which Laughlin and others have previously said might engulf and vaporize our planet (unless we can figure out a way to move it).
Other astronomers have noted that it is possible there are three-object systems yet to be found in the outer solar system. If they are all round and have that certain barycenter thing happening, then they'd be called triple planets under the new definition.
It gets stranger.
Astronomers expect to find hundreds of Pluto-sized objects in the outer solar system. If one has a satellite that is round, and which has a certain eccentric orbit -- meaning the two objects come very close together at one point and then diverge greatly -- then the barycenter could dip inside the larger object during part of the orbit, Laughlin explained.
In such a case, the smaller object would be defined as a moon part of the time and a planet the rest.
A vote on the new definition is scheduled for August 24 at the IAU meeting in Prague.


http://edition.cnn.com/2006/TECH/spa...8/moon.planet/


This is ridiculous. Just keep the planets the way they are!
August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 
People that make a crap load more money than we do are actually getting PAID to come up with this? Were do I apply?
August 19th, 2006  
The Cooler King
 
If you find out where, let me know. I want to join too.
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Earth's moon could become a planet
August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 
We can start our own firm, charge the government millions and convince them that the moon is made of cheese.
August 19th, 2006  
The Cooler King
 
Now your talking! You think we need more people?
August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 
Sure... how many members are on the board?
August 20th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
Okay, let's get started. There's a planet, here's one over here, I just saw one go by......
August 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 
Do you think we have enought Milbucs saved up to get started?
August 20th, 2006  
The Cooler King
 
We could always just rob the bank in the Milforum PX. We have Missileer. He's our inside man.

But I just thought of something. If they make the moon a planet, it means Americans were the first to step foot on another planet. I see where they are going with this.
August 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 
Hey, 10K to each of us should get us started. We can buy enough gear to run the program....
 


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