Neptune is the outer most planet in our solar system; it orbits the sun with a radius of 2,798,000,000 miles. Neptune is the 4th largest planet by diameter, 3rd largest planet by mass and densest of all the gas giants. Neptune has a great dark spot similar to that of Jupiter. Both spots are Anticyclonic storms, meaning the winds around the storm flow opposite to the direction dictated by the Coriolis effect. However, unlike Jupiter’s spots, Neptune’s dark spots appear to only last a few years (as opposed to a few hundred) and have relatively calm and cloudless centers. Observations have shown that Neptune spends about the same amount of time with and without its largest dark spot. The storms activity seems to cyclical.
Neptune has 14 moons, Triton is the largest and composes more than 99.5% of all the mass that orbits the planet. Triton is roughly the same size as our moon: (Neptune’s Triton vs Earth’s moon)
Triton has a retrograde orbit around Neptune, meaning that it orbits in the opposite of the planet’s rotation.
These images were taken by the Voyager 2 space probe and the Hubble space telescope, with the exception of the last image being an artists impression of Neptune seen from its moon Triton.
"Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun."
Nice! Getting closer to finding our “Twin Earth..”
The kirrabilli are a sentient hexapodal species about four and a half feet high, living on a small, warm world orbiting a slow burning star.
Although now technologically advanced, the kirrabilli evolved as environmental specialists who hunted for both animal and plant food across the extensive moss-like forest floors of their subtropical home. This soft sponge-like substrate played a key role in the evolution of the kirrabilli and their unusual needle like feet: The thin tips, unable to support themselves on the moss, sink into it several inches and are stopped from slipping deeper by a ring of tough, fibrous hairs. This provides some extra traction, but more importantly allows the thin and highly sensitive tips to detect vibrations passing through the denser ground beneath. By sensing the substrate in this way the kirrabilli can detect large creatures moving a considerable distance away while also communicating with one another via rhythmic vibrations through the ground. As their evolution progressed towards more complex intelligence, entire long range conversations could be carried on this way and thus the groundwork was laid for co-operative hunting and intertribal communication.
Whilst their stable environment made thermoregulation largely unnecessary, the kirrabilli are able to maintain an elevated body temperature when necessary by concentrating warm blood near the central organs and withdrawing it from the long slender limbs. Weather falling outside of their range of tolerance was met by moss matt shelters and communal huddling until the discovery of fire and limited clothing.
Sensory input comes from several highly specialised organs and is dominated by sight. Two stalked and densely packed compound eyes extend from the front of the head, below which hang sensitive olfactory organs to detect scents and changes in humidity. In keeping with their well-developed vibration detection abilities, their hearing is acute and is mediated through mobile ears at the tip of the abdomen.
As omnivores, the kirrabilli possess mouthparts and manipulators of a generalised and adaptable design. The arms, derived from the lips, lack a solid skeleton and collect fruits or carry weapons for subduing small prey. Equipped with their own basic sense of taste, these arms pass food up the mouth that lies between them.
Their most critical adaptation, however, may be their linguistic abilities which encompass visual, aural and infrasonic components. Various configurations of the limbs and body reveal the colourful blue patches on the legs and abdomen, the different combinations conveying meaning and intent. Sound is generated through a combination of stridulation using the rough inner surfaces of the arms, and air expelled and modulated through the twin breathing spiracles on either side of the abdomen. Dramatic punctuation and long range communication can be supplemented by beating on the substrate.
Currently a technologically advanced and relatively peaceful people, the kirrabilli have developed sustainable high density agriculture and their population continues to grow.
"The jellyback is a tall creature which feeds on the high fruits of certain trees. Once the creature reaches maturity it produces egg cysts within the large sac on its back. These eggs are very small, hard, and numerous. The timing of this is correlated with symbiotic flying creatures’ breeding patterns. Once the flying creatures begin their courtship, the jellybacks begin a transformation. Toxins usually stored in their sacs become neutralized; in the process the sacs turn a bright red color as the creatures’ limbs stiffen. The jellybacks die in this process, retaining a rigid standing position, and using the red color of the jellybacks’ sacs as a signal that it is time, the symbiotic flying creatures tear into the sacs and feast on the mass stored therein. These nutrient-rich tissues and fluids give the flying creatures the energy they need to produce their young. The jellyback’s egg cysts are also consumed incidentally, but are not harmed by the flying creatures’ digestive processes; in fact the process is essential to allow them to hatch. The egg cysts are later deposited by the flying creatures as they excrete them far and wide. The cysts then hatch and, using the nutrients from the flying creatures’ droppings, begin the first stage in their life cycle. The dead jellybacks’ bodies can remain fixed in a standing position for years, providing structures for the flying creatures to build safe nests high above the plains.
Rising up through the fog in the distance, the fossilized remains of complex mega-structures formed over millions of years by long extinct burrowing tube worms have been exposed by geological processes to form dramatic arches looming over the plains.”
A few months ago David Chambon has been working on a series of amazing photographs of insects covered in dew drops. If the “creativity” of the phenomenon is due to the nature only, Chambon takes credit for putting in focus, with exemplary photographic expertise, these little natural wonders.
Ferocious, Fearless Mantis Shrimp Is the Honey Badger of the Sea
by Matt Simon
These are the stomatopods, some 550 known species of mantis shrimp that range from less than an inch long to well over a foot. They’re feisty, beautifully complex creatures that strike so quickly that they momentarily superheat the water around their spring-loaded clubs to a temperature nearly as hot as the surface of the sun.
They may not be particularly big, but they will fight just about anything that so much as looks at them funny. Octopuses, humans, each other — you name it. You see, the mantis shrimp doesn’t grab ass. It kicks it.
Mantis shrimp are split into two groups. Smashers methodically dismember and knock their prey unconscious. Spearers impale fish with spikey appendages, much like their insect namesake. The speed and power with which these creatures strike simply defies logic. While the spearers can lash at their prey in a mere 20 to 30 milliseconds, the smashers can be 10 times as quick. This is the fastest predatory strike on the planet…