3 Loads of Extra Planets (Including a Football-Shaped One)
How many planets are there in the solar system? "Aha!" you yell at your computer, netting some odd stares from your co-workers. "That depends on whether you're counting Pluto, which was demoted to 'dwarf planet' status in 2006!" Hold off on patting yourself on the back there, Tycho. If you said "nine planets, assuming you count Pluto," you're actually off by a factor of 50, or maybe even 1,500. Much like the real Tycho, you are seriously neglecting some dwarfs here.
NASA via Space.com
In all the volumes of Tycho's research, not one mention of Peter Dinklage.
So far, we've officially classified five dwarf planets right here in our solar system (although we've observed many more): Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Makemake, and Haumea. Most of these are out in the solar ghetto, way past Neptune, but Ceres is actually quite close, as it orbits between Mars and Jupiter. But the one of particular note right now is the icy dwarf planet Haumea, discovered in 2004.
Haumea, you're not misshapen, you're just ... unique.
Named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, Haumea is a frozen rock uncannily resembling a football one-tenth the size of Earth. At least that's what complex science calculations tell us about the planet. We haven't yet physically observed Haumea, but we do know some things about it -- like that it exists in a perpetual, hellish cycle of freezing death and rebirth.
SINC/José Antonio Peñas via Wired
Which wouldn't be so bad if they could just get rid of that awful rash.
Analyses have shown that large amounts of radiation on Haumea are causing the ice on its surface to continuously melt and instantly refreeze, probably because the planet is located 4.6 billion miles from the sun (it's pretty much all Snuggie territory as soon as you pass Jupiter). Scientists also hypothesize that there might be organic matter on Haumea because of its dark red spot. No word yet on whether said organic matter has claws and hates humanity with a burning radioactive passion, so we are forced to assume it does.
2 Mars' Gigantic Photo Op
NASA via Science Blogs
Astronomers from the European Space Agency recently glimpsed a pair of 30-mile-wide pitted craters on Mars that they believe were created by a combination of impacts from space and subterranean explosions. Why do we bring this up? Because we're interested in the cause of these subterranean events? Because we're fascinated by geological shifts? Because we're serious, scientifically minded people who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth? No. Of course not. We bring this up because those craters totally look like a pair of deranged eyes:
ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) via ESA
The Martian landscape is not the vast monochromatic wasteland you think you know. In fact, it is host to many otherworldly sand dunes, craters, and rock formations that would feel right at home in one of Dali's surrealist dreamscapes. A recent montage of landscapes taken by the HiRISE high-resolution imaging system aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown us everything from a buried pencil to mitosis to what looks like nipples (if you're lonely and myopic enough).
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona via Discovery
We've also spotted gigantic dust devils racing across Mars' surface, unfettered by Earth levels of gravity and therefore able to grow much larger than anything we get down here.
This is why there are no trailer parks on Mars.
Hell, we've even found what appears to be a blasted-out Stormtrooper helmet on the red planet (either it's a prime example of pareidolia or the new Star Wars movies have waaay too much in the PR budget).
Well, they did say it was a long time ago.