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The Search for Planet 9 Turns to Saturn and Cassini

Somewhere in the far outer reaches of the solar system lurks the mysterious Planet 9 (sometimes called Planet X), the giant planet CalTech professors Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin claimed to have found evidence of just last month. It’s too far away to see but astronomers would like to know where to look when it finally makes its return close to the inner circle of planets. A new theory suggests that the key to pinpointing this location is currently in the vicinity of Saturn – the Cassini space probe.

What can a nearly 20-year-old spacecraft tell us about the path of a never-seen planet? Quite a bit, it turns out. Astronomers know that planets leave distinct fingerprints of heat energy behind in the path they take while orbiting the Sun. The amounts of energy left by a cold Planet 9 are tiny – tens of degrees above absolute zero making millimeter-length radio waves – but they’re there. If only there were some way to capture and identify those fingerprints.



Fortunately, that’s one of the many functions Cassini has performed as it traveled back and forth through Saturn’s rings. Agnès Fienga of the Nice Observatory in France and her fellow astronomers there have analyzed the data collected so far and, while it hasn’t shown where Planet 9 has traveled, it’s revealed plenty of places where it hasn’t. Already, half of the proposed possible Planet 9 orbital paths have been eliminated.

Planet 9 could be anywhere

Planet 9 could be anywhere

Will the definitive proof of Planet 9’s existence and route through the solar system be Cassini’s final moment of glory? The probe is scheduled to self-destruct in a plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, 2017. This could convince NASA to extend the mission a few more years to 2020 to collect fingerprints for astronomers to analyze.

The process of elimination has helped many of us pass tests (OK, just me). It looks like it could help astronomers ace the test of proving the existence and path of Planet 9.

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  • NotSheep

    I find it very interesting that the same scientist that launched the campaign to declassify Pluto, is the same scientist that has now found trace evidence of planet 9, or planet 10 or X or whatever.
    The cradle of human civilization was Sumeria, and according to their ancient texts that we have been able to partially decipher, there are ten planets in our system. The fact that they knew this thousands of years ago lends scientific credibility to the other historical revelations found in the over 200,000 tablets recovered by archeology, and this is bad new for monotheism.
    Is it possible that the “declassification” of Pluto was simply a propaganda spin on our solar system, to pander to the one god religions? Why would the same scientist that went through so much trouble lowering the count of the solar system, be the same one that finds the next planet?
    What if the only reason this was done was to cover the fact that planet X, or Nibiru, is on its way back into the solar core, and by saying its planet nine, they are trying to cover the possible panic by the public, or the complete fallacy of world monotheistic faiths?
    Interesting to ponder, and granted you might think that people are not that naive, but if the entire world can be fooled by Saudi Wahhabi extremists into believing that they are some separate faction with no ties to Wahhabism, then people will believe anything..

  • Paul Merritt

    Wait why exactly do they plan to self destruct Cassini in Saturn’s atmosphere?

  • Pilgrim

    NotSheep; Zecharia Sitchin was the guy who came up with Nibiru, planet X and all kinds of other nonsense about ancient aliens called Annunaki reptile people, etc. I don’t know why anybody ascribes any credibility to this nutjob. “Planet 9” isn’t in that league. Two very down to earth astronomers noticed anomalies in the orbital patterns of various space objects as if they were responding to unaccounted-for gravitational influences. “Planet 9” at this point is a theory that would explain the phenomenon, but nobody has laid eyes on it yet. It’s only theory.

    Rowdie, I’ve never heard of Pluto having clouds before, would you kindly elaborate please, a link would be helpful.