Save the date: Jan. 1, 2019! NASA's New Horizons, which visited Pluto in 2015, will sweep by 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule), 4 billion miles from the Sun. The probe will pass within 2,200 miles of the roughly 20-mile-wide object, which may be binary. #gam2018 #RandomAstroFact

Mercury's original crust was lost to sight, covered by lava from global volcanism. Since then, the little planet has cooled & shrunk, forming wrinkle ridges & other distinctive topographic features that run across pre-existing craters & lava plains. #gam2018 #RandomAstroFact

NASA's Curiosity Rover, operating on Mars since 2012, has recently been investigating the iron-bearing Vera Rubin Ridge. Rubin (1928-2016) was the distinguished astrophysicist whose observations confirmed the existence of dark matter in galaxies. #gam2018 #RandomAstroFact

Most gold in the universe is made in nuclear reactions triggered when neutron stars collide & merge, an event first observed last August by two gravitational wave observatories & the Fermi satellite. About 70 telescopes made follow-up measurements. #gam2018 #RandomAstroFact

Jupiter is known for colorful cloud belts parallel to the equator. Now its blue polar regions are seen in vivid form by the Juno space probe. Each has a huge central cyclone ringed by more cyclones, 8 at the north pole & 5 at the south pole. #gam2018 #RandomAstroFact