Solar System Symbols.

The symbols for the planets, dwarf planet Pluto, Moon and Sun (along with the symbols for the zodiac constellations) were developed for use in both astronomy and astrology.

The astronomical symbol for the Sun is a shield with a circle inside. Some believe this inner circle, or “boss” represents a central sun spot.

The symbol for Mercury represents the head and winged cap of Mercury, god of commerce and communication, surmounting his caduceus (staff).

The symbol for Venus is designated as the female symbol, thought to be the stylized representation of the hand mirror of this goddess of love.

The symbol for Earth shows a globe bisected by meridian lines into four quarters.

The symbol for the Moon is a crescent.

The symbol for Mars represents the shield and spear of the god of war, Mars; it is also the male or masculine symbol.

The symbol for Jupiter is said to represent a hieroglyph of the eagle, Jove’s bird, or to be the initial letter of Zeus with a line drawn through it to indicate its abbreviation.

The symbol for Saturn is thought to be an ancient scythe or sickel, as Saturn was the god of seed-sowing and also of time.

The symbol for Uranus is represented by combined devices indicating the Sun plus the spear of Mars, as Uranus was the personification of heaven in Greek mythology, dominated by the light of the Sun and the power of Mars.

The symbol for Neptune is the trident (long three-pronged fork or weapon) of Neptune, god of the sea.

The symbol for dwarf planet Pluto is a monogram made up of P and L in Pluto (and also the initials of Percival Lowell, who predicted its discovery).

So, what now (bear with me)?

Since the failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on June 28th, we’re all wondering what the next step is for this groundbreaking space travel company.

First off, it’s no secret that this is pretty disastrous. There’s a *LOT* of complicated politics at play with SpaceX, their competition, Congress and the President. The long story short is that a future of space exploration where the cost to get to space is accessible for people in the middle class depends almost entirely on SpaceX’s success (I’m talking in the near term –> our lifetimes).

So what’s going on behind the scenes right now?

SpaceX engineers and scientists are sifting through computer code, known as telemetry.

Telemetry is essentially just the wireless data sent by spacecraft that allow us to monitor things like location and status of the technical systems.

This data is coming back in the language of computers: binary.

The data the SpaceX engineers are sifting through must look like this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100111 01101111 00100000 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101101 01110011 01100101 01101100 01110110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 

Looks like a mess huh? It is. It’s the only language these systems speak though. The SpaceX engineers are decoding these last signals from the spacecraft using a program called a hex editor.

Basically, that huge mess you see above is being turned into something more readable to humans. Often binary gets separated every couple of digits so that it would turn this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000

into this:


This is far more easy to read that having to sift through hundreds of millions of 0′s and 1′s. Embedded in each 0 and 1 though is crucial information, each representing a component within the spacecraft’s system.

There’s good news…

The silver lining in this event is that it’s been discovered that the explosion happened around 139 seconds into the flight.

They were still receiving telemetry from the Dragon capsule after the explosion.

The Dragon spacecraft survived the explosion.

Look at the gif above. You might notice the shadow of something flying away from the explosion after as the clock says 2:22 (the clock’s in the upper-right). This shadow is likely from the Dragon spacecraft.

If there had been astronauts aboard, they would’ve been safe. That’s right. The silver lining is that SpaceX’s engineering is so profoundly efficient that even amidst a launch explosion and a failure to eject from the rocket, the spacecraft (and therefore the astronauts) would be safe.

(Image credit: SpaceX)