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The Background Image: NASA:JHUAPL/SwRI

A Map of the Moon















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|| April 06: 2018 || ά. The Humanion was first published on September 24, 2015 and has been run, since that day, on a complete voluntary basis without any 'formal' or 'constituted' manner or form and, it was run on as a Human Enterprise, which is an idea of Humanics, in which, ownership is replaced by belongingship and, thus, in a Humanical Society, no one owns anything but everyone belongs to the whole as the whole belongs to everyone lawfully and equally and, it neither believes in nor makes money but human utilities, needs, aspirations, creativity, imagination and dreams are served without money, where everyone works and creates for all others as all others create and work for all others, thus, bringing in meaning and purpose to life along with it come natural justice, equality and liberty, that establish a true civilisation within the Rule of Law. And in one word, this system of human affairs management is called, Humanics and a society that runs itself in humanics is called a humanical society. Today, we have begun the process of 'constituting' this Human Enterprise, which does not exist in the current system, but the next closest thing to it, that exists in the UK Law is Social Enterprise. Therefore, today, Friday, April 06, 2018, we are beginning Regine Humanics Foundation, that is the 'Agency', that will lead, run, manage and develop everything, that The Humanion has been trying to do.

Regine Humanics Foundation is established by the Thinker, Author, Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Editor of The Humanion, Festival Director of London Poetry Festival and a Humanicsxian: hu: maa: neek: tian: One, that believes in, lives and exists by Humanics, Mr Munayem Mayenin, of London, England, United Kingdom. Mr Mayenin says, ''Humanics is a vision; people, may, call it, utopia, we, call it our Humanicsovicsopia; Humanics. Humanics is our philosophy, our faith, our conviction, our resolution, our way of existing, thinking, being and doing: to seek and try to do so in the determination that all we must do and be is to exist to advance the human condition. People, readers and agencies and organisations, from all across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the whole of the United Kingdom and Australasia, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, from all walks and strata of life, have supported our endeavours, supported The Humanion and The Humanion Team, who volunteered their time to run things, since the beginning of The Humanion and long before that, when other things, that are now part of The Foundation, were developing. Nothing has changed in terms of the nature and value of what we have been seeking to do.''

''But the founding of The Foundation brings it all in a solid foundation so that we can keep on building this 'vision' so that it keeps on going regardless of who come to take the vision-mission of The Foundation forward. The Foundation runs along with time and along with the flowing humanity. This is the dream, this is the vision, this the hope in founding this Foundation. And, in this, we hope and invite all our readers, supporters, well wishers and all agencies and organisations to support our endeavours to build something, a Human Enterprise, which we are in the process of registering as a Social Enterprise, as a Community Interest Company, working for the common good of the one and common humanity. No one makes or takes profit out of The Foundation, which now runs The Humanion and everything else, that is part of it. The Foundation, once registered, will have an Asset Lock, which means that in any event, should The Foundation dissolve itself, all its existing assets shall go to a similar Social Enterprise. Therefore, we invite everyone to support The Foundation, support The Humanion in whatever way they can. And, there are endless number of ways people and organisations can support The Foundation and The Humanion.'' ::: ω.

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The Other Earth Around the Other Sun: Proximabee

This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. Image: ESO:M. Kornmesser


|| August 26: 2016: Pat Brennan: NASA || ά. A newly discovered, roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighbouring star might be habitable, according to a team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's 03.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile, along with other telescopes around the world. The exoplanet is at a distance from its star that allows temperatures mild enough for liquid water to pool on its surface.

"NASA congratulates ESO on the discovery of this intriguing planet that has captured the hopes and the imagination of the world," says Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "We look forward to learning more about the planet, whether it holds ingredients that could make it suitable for life." The new planet circles Proxima Centauri, the smallest member of a triple star system known to science fiction fans everywhere as Alpha Centauri. Just over four light-years away, Proxima is the closest star to Earth, besides our own sun.

"This is really a game-changer in our field," said Olivier Guyon, a planet-hunting affiliate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and associate professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. "The closest star to us has a possible rocky planet in the habitable zone. That's a huge deal. It also boosts the already existing, mounting body of evidence that such planets are near, and that several of them are probably sitting quite close to us. This is extremely exciting."

The science team that made the discovery, led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé of Queen Mary University of London, will publish its findings August 25 in the journal Nature. The team traced subtle wobbles in the star revealing, the presence of a star-tugging planet. They determined that the new planet, dubbed Proxima b, is at least 01.3 times the mass of Earth. It orbits its star far more closely than Mercury orbits our sun, taking only 11 days to complete a single orbit, a "year" on Proxima b.

Long list of unknowns

The stunning announcement comes with plenty of caveats. While the new planet lies within its star's "habitable zone", a distance at which temperatures are right for liquid water, scientists do not yet know if the planet has an atmosphere. It also orbits a red-dwarf star, far smaller and cooler than our sun. The planet likely presents only one face to its star, as the moon does to Earth, instead of rotating through our familiar days and nights. And Proxima b could be subject to potentially life-extinguishing stellar flares.

"That's the worry in terms of habitability," said Scott Gaudi, an astronomy professor at Ohio State University, Columbus, and JPL affiliate credited with numerous exoplanet discoveries. "This thing is being bombarded by a fair amount of high-energy radiation. It's not obvious if it's going to have a magnetic field strong enough to prevent its whole atmosphere from getting blown away. But those are really hard calculations, and I certainly wouldn't put my money either way on that."

Despite the unknowns, the discovery was hailed by NASA exoplanet hunters as a major milestone on the road to finding other possible life-bearing worlds within our stellar neighbourhood. "It definitely gives us something to be excited about," said Sara Seager, a planetary science and physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and an exoplanet-hunting pioneer. "I think it will definitely motivate people to get moving."

'Not completely unexpected'

Statistical surveys of exoplanets, planets orbiting other stars, by NASA's Kepler space telescope have revealed a large proportion of small planets around small stars, she said. The Kepler data suggest we should expect at least one potentially habitable, Earth-size planet orbiting M-type stars, like Proxima, within 10 light-years of our solar system.

So the latest discovery was "not completely unexpected. We're more lucky than surprised," Seager said. But it "helps buoy our confidence that planets are everywhere." It's especially encouraging for upcoming space telescopes, which can contribute to the study of the new planet. The James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018, may be able to follow-up on this planet with spectroscopy to determine the contents of its atmosphere. NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite:TESS will find similar planets in the habitable zone in the stellar backyard of our solar system in 2018.

One of TESS's goals is to find planets orbiting nearby M-dwarf stars like Proxima Centauri. "It's great news just to know that M-dwarf planets could be as common as we think they are," Seager said. Another possible inspiration Proxima b could reignite: the admittedly far-off goal of sending a probe to another solar system.

Bill Borucki, an exoplanet pioneer, said the new discovery might inspire more interstellar research, especially if Proxima b proves to have an atmosphere. Coming generations of space and ground-based telescopes, including large ground telescopes now under construction, could yield more information about the planet, perhaps inspiring ideas on how to pay it a visit.

"It may be that the first time we get really good information is from the newer telescopes that may be coming online in a decade or two," said Borucki, now retired, the former principal investigator for Kepler, which has discovered the bulk of the more than 3,300 exoplanets found so far.

"Maybe people will talk about sending a probe to that star system," Borucki said. "I think it does provide some inspiration for an interstellar mission, because now we know there is a planet in the habitable zone, probably around the mass of Earth, around the closest star. I think it does inspire a future effort to go there and check it out."

Elizabeth Landau: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-6425: elizabeth.landau at

Written by Pat Brennan: NASA Exoplanet Program

Editor: Tony Greicius:NASA: ω.

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Europa Holds Earth-like Wonders in Her Ocean

This enhanced-color view from NASA's Galileo spacecraft shows an intricate pattern of linear fractures on the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Credits: NASA:JPL-Caltech/:SETI Institute

|| May 17: 2016|| ά. A new NASA study modelling conditions in the ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa suggests that the necessary balance of chemical energy for life could exist there, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity.

Europa is strongly believed to hide a deep ocean of salty liquid water beneath its icy shell. Whether the Jovian moon has the raw materials and chemical energy in the right proportions to support biology is a topic of intense scientific interest. The answer may hinge on whether Europa has environments where chemicals are matched in the right proportions to power biological processes. Life on Earth exploits such niches.

In a new study, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, compared Europa's potential for producing hydrogen and oxygen with that of Earth, through processes that do not directly involve volcanism. The balance of these two elements is a key indicator of the energy available for life. The study found that the amounts would be comparable in scale; on both worlds, oxygen production is about 10 times higher than hydrogen production.

The work draws attention to the ways that Europa’s rocky interior may be much more complex and possibly earthlike than people typically think, according to Steve Vance, a planetary scientist at JPL and lead author of the study. "We're studying an alien ocean using methods developed to understand the movement of energy and nutrients in Earth's own systems. The cycling of oxygen and hydrogen in Europa's ocean will be a major driver for Europa's ocean chemistry and any life there, just as it is on Earth."

Ultimately, Vance and colleagues want to also understand the cycling of life's other major elements in the ocean: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.

As part of their study, the researchers calculated how much hydrogen that could potentially be produced in Europa's ocean as seawater reacts with rock, in a process called serpentinization. In this process, water percolates into spaces between mineral grains and reacts with the rock to form new minerals, releasing hydrogen in the process. The researchers considered how cracks in Europa's seafloor likely open up over time, as the moon's rocky interior continues to cool following its formation billions of years ago. New cracks expose fresh rock to seawater, where more hydrogen-producing reactions can take place.

In Earth's oceanic crust, such fractures are believed to penetrate to a depth of 3 to 4 miles (5 to 6 kilometers). On present-day Europa, the researchers expect water could reach as deep as 15 miles (25 kilometers) into the rocky interior, driving these key chemical reactions throughout a deeper fraction of Europa's seafloor.

The other half of Europa's chemical-energy-for-life equation would be provided by oxidants -- oxygen and other compounds that could react with the hydrogen -- being cycled into the Europan ocean from the icy surface above. Europa is bathed in radiation from Jupiter, which splits apart water ice molecules to create these materials. Scientists have inferred that Europa's surface is being cycled back into its interior, which could carry oxidants into the ocean.

"The oxidants from the ice are like the positive terminal of a battery, and the chemicals from the seafloor, called reductants, are like the negative terminal. Whether or not life and biological processes complete the circuit is part of what motivates our exploration of Europa," said Kevin Hand, a planetary scientist at JPL who co-authored the study.

Europa's rocky, neighboring Jovian moon, Io, is the most volcanically active body in the solar system, due to heat produced by the stretching and squeezing effects of Jupiter's gravity as it orbits the planet. Scientists have long considered it possible that Europa might also have volcanic activity, as well as hydrothermal vents, where mineral-laden hot water would emerge from the sea floor.

According to Vance, researchers previously speculated that volcanism is paramount for creating a habitable environment in Europa's ocean. If such activity is not occurring in its rocky interior, the thinking goes, the large flux of oxidants from the surface would make the ocean too acidic, and toxic, for life. "But actually, if the rock is cold, it's easier to fracture. This allows for a huge amount of hydrogen to be produced by serpentinization that would balance the oxidants in a ratio comparable to that in Earth's oceans," he said.

The results are published online this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

NASA is currently formulating a mission to explore Europa and investigate in depth whether the icy moon might be habitable. This new model is part of a large body of evidence that is guiding the mission's development. Some time in the 2020s, NASA would send a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of Europa. During these flybys, the mission would take high-resolution images; determine the composition of the icy moon's surface and faint atmosphere; and investigate its ice shell, ocean and interior.

For more information about NASA's mission to Europa, visit:

Preston Dyches: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-7013:  ω.

:Editor:Tony Greicius:NASA:


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First Global Topographic Model of Mercury

A view of Mercury’s northern volcanic plains is shown in enhanced color to emphasize different types of rocks on Mercury’s surface. In the bottom right portion of the image, the 181-mile- (291-kilometer)-diameter Mendelssohn impact basin, named after the German composer, appears to have been once nearly filled with lava. Toward the bottom left portion of the image, large wrinkle ridges, formed during lava cooling, are visible. Also in this region, the circular rims of impact craters buried by the lava can be identified. Near the top of the image, the bright orange region shows the location of a volcanic vent. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/Carnegie Institution of Washington


|| May 07: 2016 || NASA’s MESSENGER mission has unveiled the first global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury, revealing in stunning detail the topography across the entire innermost planet and paving the way for scientists to fully characterize Mercury’s geologic history.

The global topographic model is among three new products from the Planetary Data System (PDS), a NASA-funded organization that archives and distributes all of NASA’s planetary mission data to the public. With this 15th and last major data release, the MESSENGER mission has shared more than 10 terabytes of Mercury science data, including nearly 300,000 images, millions of spectra, and numerous map products, along with interactive tools that allow the public to explore those data.

“The wealth of these data, greatly enhanced by the extension of MESSENGER’s primary one-year mission to more than four years, has already enabled and will continue to enable exciting scientific discoveries about Mercury for decades to come,” said Susan Ensor, a software engineer at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Maryland. For the last nine years, Ensor has managed the MESSENGER Science Operations Center, which oversees the collection of data.

The First Global Topography of the Innermost Planet

Image: NASA

The new global model complements an older product released by MESSENGER, the topography map derived from earlier measurements by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA). Because of the spacecraft’s highly eccentric orbit, the MLA was able to make primary measurements only in Mercury’s northern hemisphere and near-equatorial region, leaving the topography of most of the southern hemisphere largely unknown, until now.

This new model reveals a variety of interesting topographic features, as shown in the animation above, including the highest and lowest points on the planet. The highest elevation on Mercury is at 2.78 miles (4.48 kilometers) above Mercury’s average elevation, located just south of the equator in some of Mercury’s oldest terrain. The lowest elevation, at 3.34 miles (5.38 kilometers) below Mercury’s average, is found on the floor of Rachmaninoff basin, an intriguing double-ring impact basin suspected to host some of the most recent volcanic deposits on the planet.

More than 100,000 images were used to create the new model. During the orbital phase of the MESSENGER mission, images were acquired with a large range of viewing geometries and illumination conditions, which enabled the topography across Mercury’s surface to be determined.

Revealing the Colors of Mercury’s Northern Volcanic Plains

This new map provides an unprecedented view of the region near Mercury’s north pole.

“MESSENGER had previously discovered that past volcanic activity buried this portion of the planet beneath extensive lavas, more than a mile deep in some areas and covering a vast area equivalent to approximately 60 percent of the continental United States,” said APL’s Nancy Chabot, the Instrument Scientist for the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).

However, because this region is near Mercury’s north pole, the sun is always low on the horizon, casting many long shadows across the scene that can obscure the color characteristics of the rocks. Consequently, MDIS carefully captured images of this portion of the planet when the shadows were minimized through five different narrow-band color filters. Mercury’s northern volcanic plains are revealed in striking color, as shown in the image below.

“This has become one of my favorite maps of Mercury,” Chabot added. “Now that it is available, I’m looking forward to it being used to investigate this epic volcanic event that shaped Mercury’s surface.”


Though MESSENGER’s orbital operations ended about one year ago, today’s data release is one of the most important milestones for the project. Archiving the extensive MESSENGER data sets in NASA’s Planetary Data System is a lasting legacy of the mission.

“During its four years of orbital observations, MESSENGER revealed the global characteristics of one of our closest planetary neighbors for the first time,” offered MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, Director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “MESSENGER’s scientists and engineers hope that data from the mission will continue to be utilized by the planetary science community for years to come, not only to study the nature of the innermost planet, but to address broader questions about the formation and evolution of the inner solar system more generally.”

( Editor: Bill Keeter: NASA)

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Look at the Heart of Mars Where Colours Cascade into an Awe

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

|| May 04: 2016 || The Nili Fossae region, located on the northwest rim of Isidis impact basin, is one of the most colorful regions of Mars. The colors over many regions of Mars are homogenized by the dust and regolith, but here the bedrock is very well exposed, except where there are sand dunes. The rocks also have diverse compositions. This region is ancient and has had a complicated geologic history, leading to interesting structures like layered bedrock, as well as other compositions.

This image of Nili Fossae was taken on Feb. 05, 2016, at 14:54 local Mars time by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Caption: Alfred McEwen

( Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)


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Neptune Four: In Celebration of Completing the First Orbit Since Its Discovery in 1846

Between the images there are few hours difference so that each image shows Neptune's differing faces as it rotates on its axis














Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

||April 14, 2016 || These four images, taken a few hours apart with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, show Neptune, the eighth and outermost planet of the Solar System. Hubble’s images were taken to celebrate the first complete orbit of the planet since its discovery in 1846. The four images show different faces of the planet as it rotates on its axis.


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The Spirit of St Louis Crater: Mars













Names related to the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic have been informally assigned to a crater NASA's Opportunity Mars rover is studying. This false-color view of the "Spirit of St. Louis Crater" and the "Lindbergh Mound" inside it comes from Opportunity's panoramic camera. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State University

||April 11, 2016 || NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is studying an elongated crater called "Spirit of St. Louis" and a rock spire called "Lindbergh Mound" within the crater.

The crater and several features in and near it are shown in a recent image from Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam).

Throughout Opportunity's 11-plus years on Mars, the science team for the rover has picked crater names from a list of "vessels of exploration," including ships, spacecraft and aircraft. The names informally assigned for this crater and features in it refer to Charles Lindbergh's May 1927 flight from New York to Paris in the airplane he named Spirit of St. Louis, the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis help lead the Opportunity mission. A news release from the university describes the connection between St. Louis and Lindbergh, at:

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about Opportunity's exploration of Mars, visit:  and

Guy Webster: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-6278:

( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)


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Cosmography Titan
















Image: NASA

March 28, 2016: This map of Saturn's moon Titan identifies the locations of mountains that have been named by the International Astronomical Union. The map is an update to a previous version published in 2012 (see PIA16598), and includes an additional mountain area (Moria Montes), along with several "colles" which are collections of hills.

Left Half of the Image















Image: NASA

By convention, mountains on Titan are named for mountains from Middle-earth, the fictional setting in fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Unfortunately for "Lord of the Rings" fans, Titan's highest peak is not Doom Mons (see PIA20023). Colles are named for characters from the same works by Tolkien.

The map uses data collected by both the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) and radar instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Right Half of the Image















Image: NASA

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

Scaled Down Whole Image














Image: NASA

The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the United States and several European countries. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit  and

( Editor: Martin Perez:NASA)


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Alluvial Fans in Saheki Crater, Mars

Alfred McEwen Writing

Alluvial fans are gently-sloping wedges of sediments deposited by flowing water in Saheki Crater















Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


March 27, 2016: Alluvial fans are gently-sloping wedges of sediments deposited by flowing water. Some of the best-preserved alluvial fans on Mars are in Saheki Crater, an area that has been imaged many times previously.

This observation, captured on Jan. 23, 2016 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, covers two impact craters that expose the stratigraphy of the fans. This image will be used to measure the depth of the fan and describe its depositional history, as well as closer view of some of these layers.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

( Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)


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Presenting the Cosmography of Ceres
















This global map shows the surface of Ceres in enhanced color, encompassing infrared wavelengths beyond human visual range. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA


March 26, 2016: Scientists from NASA's Dawn mission unveiled new images from the spacecraft's lowest orbit at Ceres, including highly anticipated views of Occator Crater, at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, on Tuesday.

Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, contains the brightest area on Ceres, the dwarf planet that Dawn has explored since early 2015. The latest images, taken from 240 miles (385 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres, reveal a dome in a smooth-walled pit in the bright center of the crater. Numerous linear features and fractures crisscross the top and flanks of this dome. Prominent fractures also surround the dome and run through smaller, bright regions found within the crater.

"Before Dawn began its intensive observations of Ceres last year, Occator Crater looked to be one large bright area. Now, with the latest close views, we can see complex features that provide new mysteries to investigate," said Ralf Jaumann, planetary scientist and Dawn co-investigator at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin. "The intricate geometry of the crater interior suggests geologic activity in the recent past, but we will need to complete detailed geologic mapping of the crater in order to test hypotheses for its formation."

Northern Hemisphere














This map shows a portion of the northern hemisphere of Ceres with neutron counting data acquired by the gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) instrument aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/ASI/INAF

Color Differences

The team also released an enhanced color map of the surface of Ceres, highlighting the diversity of surface materials and their relationships to surface morphology. Scientists have been studying the shapes of craters and their distribution with great interest. Ceres does not have as many large impact basins as scientists expected, but the number of smaller craters generally matches their predictions. The blue material highlighted in the color map is related to flows, smooth plains and mountains, which appear to be very young surface features.

"Although impact processes dominate the surface geology on Ceres, we have identified specific color variations on the surface indicating material alterations that are due to a complex interaction of the impact process and the subsurface composition," Jaumann said. "Additionally, this gives evidence for a subsurface layer enriched in ice and volatiles."

Counting Neutrons

Data relevant to the possibility of subsurface ice is also emerging from Dawn's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND), which began acquiring its primary data set in December. Neutrons and gamma rays produced by cosmic ray interactions with surface materials provide a fingerprint of Ceres’ chemical makeup. The measurements are sensitive to elemental composition of the topmost yard (meter) of the regolith.

In Dawn's lowest-altitude orbit, the instrument has detected fewer neutrons near the poles of Ceres than at the equator, which indicates increased hydrogen concentration at high latitudes. As hydrogen is a principal constituent of water, water ice could be present close to the surface in polar regions.

"Our analyses will test a longstanding prediction that water ice can survive just beneath Ceres' cold, high-latitude surface for billions of years," said Tom Prettyman, the lead for GRaND and Dawn co-investigator at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.

But the subsurface does not have the same composition all over Ceres, according to data from the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR), a device that looks at how various wavelengths of sunlight are reflected by the surface, allowing scientists to identify minerals.

Haulani Crater in particular is an intriguing example of how diverse Ceres is in terms of its surface material composition. This irregularly-shaped crater, with its striking bright streaks of material, shows a different proportion of surface materials than its surroundings when viewed with the VIR instrument. While the surface of Ceres is mostly made of a mixture of materials containing carbonates and phyllosilicates, their relative proportion varies across the surface.

Haluani Crater









Ceres' Haulani Crater (21 miles, 34 kilometers wide) is shown in these views from the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/ASI/INAF

"False-color images of Haulani show that material excavated by an impact is different than the general surface composition of Ceres. The diversity of materials implies either that there is a mixed layer underneath, or that the impact itself changed the properties of the materials," said Maria Cristina de Sanctis, the VIR instrument lead scientist, based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome.

Water at Oxo

Dawn scientists also reported in an LPSC scientific session that the VIR instrument has detected water at Oxo Crater, a young, 6-mile-wide (9-kilometer-wide) feature in Ceres' northern hemisphere. This water could be bound up in minerals or, alternatively, it could take the form of ice.

Jean-Philippe Combe of the Bear Fight Institute, Winthrop, Washington, said that this water-bearing material could have been exposed during a landslide or an impact -- perhaps even a combination of the two events.

Oxo is the only place on Ceres where water has been detected at the surface so far. Dawn will continue to observe this area.

The Big Picture

Coloured Map














This colorized global map of Ceres was created from a clear-filter mosaic. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA



Dawn made history last year as the first mission to reach a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct extraterrestrial targets -- both of them in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission conducted extensive observations of Vesta during its 14-month orbit there in 2011-2012.

"We're excited to unveil these beautiful new images, especially Occator, which illustrate the complexity of the processes shaping Ceres' surface. Now that we can see Ceres’ enigmatic bright spots, surface minerals and morphology in high resolution, we're busy working to figure out what processes shaped this unique dwarf planet. By comparing Ceres with Vesta, we'll glean new insights about the early solar system," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit:

More information about Dawn is available at the following sites:

( Editor: Martin Perez:NASA)


P: 270316


In the Local Galactic Group Where the Milky Way Lives

 Local Galactic Group: Image by Andrew Z Colvin

Andromeda Nebula: Var!

The Cartwheel Galaxy

In the Center of 30 Doradus

The Closest Galaxy: The Sagittarius Dwarf

Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy M32

Galaxy Dwingeloo 1 Emerges

Henize 70: A SuperBubble In The LMC

The Large Cloud of Magellan

LMC Star Clouds

Local Group Galaxy NGC 205

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

M33: The Triangulum Galaxy

The Milky Way's Center

Nearby Dwarf Galaxy Leo I

Radioactive Clouds in the Milky Way

The Small Cloud of Magellan

A Star Forming Region in the LMC

Stellar Violence in 30 Doradus

Supernova Remnant: Cooking Elements in the LMC

The X-ray Sources of M31


P: 240316



Martian Cosmography: New Gravity Map Gives Best View Yet Inside Mars

Bill Steigerwald Writing

A map of Martian gravity looking down on the North Pole (center). White and red are areas of higher gravity; blue indicates areas of lower gravity. Credits: MIT/UMBC-CRESST/GSFC

March 21, 2016: A new map of Mars' gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.

"Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient," said Antonio Genova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet's gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars. Furthermore, the improved resolution of our gravity map will help us understand the still-mysterious formation of specific regions of the planet." Genova, who is affiliated with MIT but is located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the lead author of a paper on this research published online March 5 in the journal Icarus.

The improved resolution of the new gravity map suggests a new explanation for how some features formed across the boundary that divides the relatively smooth northern lowlands from heavily cratered southern highlands. Also, the team confirmed that Mars has a liquid outer core of molten rock by analyzing tides in the Martian crust and mantle caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the two moons of Mars. Finally, by observing how Mars' gravity changed over 11 years – the period of an entire cycle of solar activity -- the team inferred the massive amount of carbon dioxide that freezes out of the atmosphere onto a Martian polar ice cap when it experiences winter. They also observed how that mass moves between the south pole and the north pole with the change of season in each hemisphere.

The map was derived using Doppler and range tracking data collected by NASA's Deep Space Network from three NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars: Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Mars Odyssey (ODY), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Like all planets, Mars is lumpy, which causes the gravitational pull felt by spacecraft in orbit around it to change. For example, the pull will be a bit stronger over a mountain, and slightly weaker over a canyon.

Slight differences in Mars' gravity changed the trajectory of the NASA spacecraft orbiting the planet, which altered the signal being sent from the spacecraft to the Deep Space Network. These small fluctuations in the orbital data were used to build a map of the Martian gravity field.

A map of Martian gravity looking down at the South Pole (center). White and red are areas of higher gravity; blue indicates areas of lower gravity. Credits: MIT/UMBC-CRESST/GSFC

The gravity field was recovered using about 16 years of data that were continuously collected in orbit around Mars. However, orbital changes from uneven gravity are tiny, and other forces that can perturb the motion of the spacecraft had to be carefully accounted for, such as the force of sunlight on the spacecraft's solar panels and drag from the Red Planet's thin upper atmosphere. It took two years of analysis and computer modeling to remove the motion not caused by gravity.

"With this new map, we've been able to see gravity anomalies as small as about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) across, and we've determined the crustal thickness of Mars with a resolution of around 120 kilometers (almost 75 miles)," said Genova. "The better resolution of the new map helps interpret how the crust of the planet changed over Mars' history in many regions."

For example, an area of lower gravity between Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra was interpreted before as a system of buried channels that delivered water and sediments from Mars' southern highlands into the northern lowlands billions of years ago when the Martian climate was wetter than it is today. The new map reveals that this low gravity anomaly is definitely larger and follows the boundary between the highlands and the lowlands. This system of gravity troughs is unlikely to be only due to buried channels because in places the region is elevated above the surrounding plains. The new gravity map shows that some of these features run perpendicular to the local topography slope, against what would have been the natural downhill flow of water.

An alternative explanation is that this anomaly may be a consequence of a flexure or bending of the lithosphere -- the strong, outermost layer of the planet -- due to the formation of the Tharsis region. Tharsis is a volcanic plateau on Mars thousands of miles across with the largest volcanoes in the solar system. As the Tharsis volcanoes grew, the surrounding lithosphere buckled under their immense weight.

A Martian gravity map showing the Tharsis volcanoes and surrounding flexure. The white areas in the center are higher-gravity regions produced by the massive Tharsis volcanoes, and the surrounding blue areas are lower-gravity regions that may be cracks in the crust (lithosphere). Credits: MIT/UMBC-CRESST/GSFC

The new gravity field also allowed the team to confirm indications from previous gravity solutions that Mars has a liquid outer core of molten rock. The new gravity solution improved the measurement of the Martian tides, which will be used by geophysicists to improve the model of Mars' interior.

Changes in Martian gravity over time have been previously measured using the MGS and ODY missions to monitor the polar ice caps. For the first time, the team used MRO data to continue monitoring their mass. The team has determined that when one hemisphere experiences winter, approximately 3 trillion to 4 trillion tons of carbon dioxide freezes out of the atmosphere onto the northern and southern polar caps, respectively. This is about 12 to 16 percent of the mass of the entire Martian atmosphere. NASA's Viking missions first observed this massive seasonal precipitation of carbon dioxide. The new observation confirms numerical predictions from the Mars Global Reference Atmospheric Model – 2010.

The research was funded by grants from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission and NASA's Mars Data Analysis Program.

Bill Steigerwald: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland:

( Editor: Bill Steigerwald:NASA)


P: 220316


Cosmography of Pluto's Heart

This map of the left side of Pluto’s heart-shaped feature uses colors to represent Pluto’s varied terrains, which helps scientists understand the complex geological processes at work. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

How to make sense of Pluto’s surprising geological complexity? To help understand the diversity of terrain and to piece together how Pluto’s surface has formed and evolved over time, mission scientists construct geological maps like the one shown above.

This map covers a portion of Pluto’s surface that measures 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from top to bottom, and includes the vast nitrogen-ice plain informally named Sputnik Planum and surrounding terrain. As the key in the figure below indicates, the map is overlaid with colors that represent different geological terrains. Each terrain, or unit, is defined by its texture and morphology – smooth, pitted, craggy, hummocky or ridged, for example. How well a unit can be defined depends on the resolution of the images that cover it. All of the terrain in this map has been imaged at a resolution of approximately 1,050 feet (320 meters) per pixel or better, meaning scientists can map units with relative confidence.

Pluto’s informally-named Sputnik Planum region is mapped, with the key indicating a wide variety of units or terrains. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The various blue and greenish units that fill the center of the map represent different textures seen across Sputnik Planum, from the cellular terrain in the center and north, to the smooth and pitted plains in the south. The black lines represent troughs that mark the boundaries of cellular regions in the nitrogen ice. The purple unit represents the chaotic, blocky mountain ranges that line Sputnik’s western border, and the pink unit represents the scattered, floating hills at its eastern edge. The possible cryovolcanic feature informally named Wright Mons is mapped in red in the southern corner of the map. The rugged highlands of the informally named Cthulhu Regio are mapped in dark brown along the western edge, pockmarked by many large impact craters, shown in yellow.

By studying how the boundaries between units crosscut one another, mission scientists can determine which units overlie others, and assemble a relative chronology for the different units. For example, the yellow craters (at left, on the western edge of the map) must have formed after their surrounding terrain. Producing such maps is important for gauging what processes have operated where on Pluto, and when they occurred relative to other processes at work.

The base map for this geologic map is a mosaic of 12 images obtained by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at a resolution of 1,280 feet (about 390 meters) per pixel. The mosaic was obtained at a range of approximately 48,000 miles (77,300 kilometers) from Pluto, about an hour and 40 minutes before New Horizons' closest approach on July 14, 2015.

(Editor: Tricia Talbert: NASA)


P: 150216


 Mars: Curiosity's Traverse Map Through Sol 1221

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 1221 Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (January, 13, 2016).


Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile). From Sol 1216 to Sol 1221, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 16.51 feet (5.03 meters).


The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


P: 300116


A Map of the Moon

















NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter science team released the highest resolution near-global topographic map of the moon ever created. This new topographic map shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire moon with a pixel scale close to 328 feet.

Although the moon is Earth's closest neighbor, knowledge of its morphology is still limited. Due to the limitations of previous missions, a global map of the moon's topography at high resolution has not existed until now. With LRO's Wide Angle Camera and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter instrument, scientists can now accurately portray the shape of the entire moon at high resolution.

For more information on the new lunar map, visit the LRO site.

( Editor: NASA Administrator)


Posted: December 22, 2015



Mars: A History of Flowing Waters

Aurorae Chaos and Ganges Chasma in context  NASA MGS MOLA Science Team

Vast volumes of water once flooded through this deep chasm on Mars that connects the ‘Grand Canyon’ of the Solar System – Valles Marineris – to the planet’s northern lowlands.

The image, taken by ESA’s Mars Express on 16 July, focuses on Aurorae Chaos, close to the junction of Ganges, Capri and Eos Chasmata.
Aurorae Chaos and Ganges Chasma in context

Aurorae Chaos measures roughly 710 km across (a smaller section is shown here) and plunges some 4.8 km below the surrounding terrain.

The region is rich in features pointing to wet episodes in the history of the Red Planet. Dominating the southern (left) portion of the scene are numerous jumbled blocks – ‘chaotic terrain’, believed to form when the surface collapses in response to melting of subsurface ice and the subsequent sudden release of water.

Towards the centre of the image is the smoother floor of Ganges Chasma, comprising mostly alluvial deposits, and which transitions into a steep scarp and a cratered plateau to the north (right).

The northern plateau shares the same elevation as that on the southern side, but does not exhibit similar levels of catastrophic collapse.

Aurorae Chaos and Ganges Chasma: Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

This image focuses on a section of Aurorae Chaos and Ganges Chasma on Mars. Aurorae Chaos measures roughly 710 km across (a smaller section is shown here) and plunges some 4.8 km below the surrounding terrain. Vast volumes of water once flooded through this deep chasm on Mars that connects the ‘Grand Canyon’ of the Solar System – Valles Marineris – to the planet’s northern lowlands. The image was acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express on 16 July 2015 during orbit 14653. The image is centred on 8ºS/320ºE. The ground resolution is about 17 m per pixel.

However, the cliff tops display small channels and the walls show evidence of slumped material or landslides – best seen in the perspective view. Material closest to the main chasma floor appears stepped, which could reflect different water or ice levels over time.

Another interesting feature can be seen towards the upper centre and to the left in the main images, where a pair of faults cuts through a collapsed block, and perhaps extends into the southern plateau at the top of the image.

The faults could be the result of a tectonic event that occurred after the formation of the chaotic terrain, or they could be from simple subsidence.

This region is just a small subsection of a huge system of interconnected valleys and flood channels that emptied water into the northern plains, and which were most likely active in the first 1–2 billion years of Mars’ history.


Posted on: November 20, 2015


Unveiling a Country: Waiting for a Nation, State, Government, Laws and Philosophy

Idea: The Editor. Design: C.R.Ventura

Logical viewpoint would point to an almost infinite space that we call the Universe on or in which we find our Blue Planet floating away as it goes around its axis every day while orbiting the Sun as it spins around. The immediate space in which we find the globe rotating is the Solar System which is formed around the gravitational and electromagnetic force region to which there are planets, to which the Earth is one, that orbit the sun. At the furthest corner of this tiny space inhabits a dwarf planet, Pluto, which is about 5, 913,520,000 km away!

Looking beyond this space, let's give her a human name: call her Sunnara, this new country of humanity, fondly lighted, heated and cradled by the burning Sun, we find a much wider and bigger space that we call the Milky Way which houses our home Sunnara, in a vast expanse of multi dimensional space spectacularly bewildered by more than 200 billions (estimates range between 200 and 400 billions stars!) stars that are gigantic in sizes among which the Sun is just a tiny dwarf star! Sunnara lies at the peripheral end of the galaxy, which is approximately 28,000 light years from the centre of the Galaxy!

The diameter of Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years or there about! We are not writing about the Milky Way as Astronomers would write, therefore, leave the science bit of our exploration and try to enter another domain of discussion which we have been calling as Cosmography.

Suffice to say that Milky Way is a tiny dot in terms of what other Galaxies, clusters of them are thriving and living out there, about which we have minuscule knowledge and understanding, let alone those galaxies, we do not know much about our own Galaxy Milky Way, and to be frank, our system, to which we devote our whole life time, does not give much importance to this at all and therefore, we do not see resources going into the studies of sciences, mathematics and geo-physics that we need to develop our knowledge, understanding and to go with it, make the necessary technological advances! No, we are busy doing lot of other things that are our utter preoccupation.

So here we are faced with a space that spreads across the void indefinitum, 100,000 light years! This distance is almost impossible for our finite human minds to actually grasp. We can gather a slight degree of vague empathy as to the vastness of the distance just to acquire enough sense to create a sense of the reality.

Now we invite you to zoom in so that we could locate our home, Sunnara in this vast entity of space and objects going through three-directional spinning round and we locate a dot. If we magnify the space many times over we could now see little dots in vast darkness where we find at the centre this almost eternal lamp burning away: the Sun and the little planets that have little moons and things are working perfectly well.

And here we see our Blue Planet and here now we have got our goings on that do not at all take anything else into consideration about the Universe! Forget about the Universe or Milky Way or even Sunnara we do not even think about the Earth as one little entity. We are so many nations, so many nationalities, so many states and governments, so many maps and mental traps of multi faceted identities that we are not one in our human identity. We human beings are all and everything but a nation of humanity or a humanion. We are fragmented into pseudo boxes that are made of illusory borders and political illusions!

On this scale of things one can really see things in perspective and is forced to question the vary foundation of our system of governance, structures of our functionality and the fallacy of our philosophical ideas and impotence of our political and cultural mechanics and foundation of our political morality.

We have nations, states, governments and bodies in layers comprising of neighbourhoods, localities, provincials, regional, national, supranational, multinational and international that brings us back to the question: where is the humanity in it? Where is the nation that should occupy, lead, manage, develop, nurture and foster this country of Sunnara where humanity practices its common purpose that offers them fair and equal opportunities to live and work for a meaning of their living? Where is the state for this landscape that is not a flat map? Where is the government for the management and leadership of this space and this nation that is yet to be prepared and shaped up to be ready to take up new challenges? Where are the political, social, cultural, philosophical and moral values and most importantly, where is the philosophy on which everything should be based upon!

We do not even have a body that represents and can claim legitimately to be the government of this globe! No one is bothered about the lack of even the idea that the globe needs a government for the nation of humanity and for the country that Sunnara is.

The United Nations is the closest entity that could be made into such a body only if we the broken-to-pieces-humanity come together to realise that it is time we begin to change the way we think and identify ourselves. The United Nations ought to be reshaped and remade on a totally different philosophy and structure where these village governments do not get to become members but each individual member of the humanion is a member of this body and this body becomes the government of not only for the Globe but also for Sunnara and lead humanity to the process of resolving grievances and issues that have been left unresolved between so called nations on earth. In this process we could resolve these issues that are causing hatred to germinate and grow like wild bush fires and this resolution can only be done by reliving, retelling, re-examining, analysing and finally understanding so that these issues could be put away sealed as forgiven, forgotten and therefore, resolved and we all are now ready to be members of this new nation of humanity. No hatred, no resentment, no rivalry, no jealousy, no animosity, no competition but a common sense and purpose. For finding some guidance and wisdom for this, one ought to think of South African experiences of truth and reconciliation which should take place between and among all nations.

When Sheraton Hotel is spending a lot of money in designing their first Lunar Sheraton, Richard Branson's Virgin Space Holiday Programme is on its way to becom a reality and Russia in order to generate cash to support its space programme and research offering space tourism flights to the ultra rich; is it not about time, we wonder what are the laws and systems that would regulate and support this expansion into space! How are these expansions going to impact on our lives, and if not regulated, how these might open up catastrophes in cosmic scale from which nothing could save us!

It is not in too distant a time in the future, probably few decades ahead, there would be space tourism starting from the moon and spreading to other planets. There would be lunar camps and facilities where students would go and live, study and research. There would be time when the whole Sunnara is going to be explored the way people went about learning and knowing more about the Earth in the recent past centuries! These activities would generate pollution and a whole lot of other political, social, cultural, scientific and moral issues that we do not have the systems, mechanisms, apparatus, laws and law enforcement bodies and a philosophical framework that could prepare us to deal with. People are selling space on the moon for gift, issuing gift vouchers! They are selling space on the Mars, too! How these are going to create problems in future in terms of claiming ownerships on these so called purchases! This might sound like joke today but these could produce serious difficulties and we do not have mechanism to deal with any such things. These are no longer science fiction issues! The countries of the world that have the scientific knowledge, explorative experiences and most importantly, the required technological abilities as well as political power and structures in addition to will and determination to go out there and declare the supremacy first and therefore, would end up like the land lords of the universe keeping the whole of humankind under their control and manipulative prowess unless we are now able to do something about it so as to be able to avoid that.

In order to take up the challenges that humanity is forced up to accept and act upon, we first of all need to become one: "we the people" must now be woken up and say: "We the Humanity is One" and if we need to call it a nationality, call it humanion, the nation of humanity that occupies this planet and that our planet is part of our country Sunnara.

Our country can no longer be UK or America, or South Africa or India, Japan or Egypt. These are our little villages from where we venture out into this new country.

Under the current atmosphere and system of economics and governance we are drowned in hatred, resentment, wars and conflicts, bloodshed, famines, droughts, lack of vital and fundamental necessities and amenities and the absolute supreme reign of lack of education and awareness as well poverty while another part of the world is living in utter excess and wasting and abusing resources. All these are feeding more hatred that is supported by bigotry, prejudices, made up "knowledge" , lies, myths against other nations and the history of colonisation, of wars, of massacres, of exploitation, of brutality, of slavery, of imposition, of abuse of power, of impacts of corruption and collusion, of a whole range of other issues that do not help but reinforce the divide and continual increase of more lethal hatred. Humanity ought to begin the process of its own Truth and Reconciliation Process so that it "purifies" itself of all the blood and destruction, of all the death and pain, of all the suffering and agony, it caused to its own members (nation to nation, group to group, tribe to tribe, religion to religion, party to party, region to region, this to that and so on) and in this process the so called nations get buried and at the funeral of these boxes of identities a new nation of humanity, a humanion comes out to take up its role to develop this new country and its nation with all that they need to prepare them to take up the challenges that previous humanity could not even imagine or understand.

Munayem Mayenin


Note: This piece was first published in The Poets' Letter Magazine (Print) and now republished (and updated). This touches on Humanics, Philosophy, Cosmography and Political Philosophy.