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Posts Tagged "cassini"

Basic Space

A little perspective on our place in the universe

Saturn, Earth and the moon as seen by Cassini

Here are some things that will give whatever might be on your mind at the moment a little perspective. You’ve probably seen these images plastered all over the Internet already. But seeing as I blogged about the new pale blue dot before it was taken, here they are: That’s Saturn, the Earth and moon as [...]

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Basic Space

Today’s the day! A new pale blue dot

newrings_cassini_big_square

Where will you be at 10.27pm (UK time) tonight? The Cassini spacecraft will be somewhere behind Saturn. But it’ll be looking at Earth, at us. So we’d better make sure we’re looking back. And don’t forget to smile — you’ll be on camera. Cassini is going to snap a picture of Earth, taking advantage of [...]

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Basic Space

Cassini spots snowballs punching through one of Saturn’s rings

Six images of the mini jets taken by Cassini between 2005 and 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/QMUL

Objects half a mile in diameter have been spotted punching through Saturn’s outermost ring, the F ring, and leaving glittering trails as they drag icy particles behind them. Scientists are calling these trails mini-jets. The scientists were actually looking at Prometheus, one of Saturn’s small moons, when they saw the first of the trails. They [...]

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Basic Space

A week in space: Cassini dips down to Enceladus, a solar flare erupts, Discovery moves, and more

Unprocessed image of Enceladus was taken last weekend. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

If I lived elsewhere in the multiverse, this is the news and cool space stuff I’d have been covering this week. Unfortunately, in this universe I didn’t have the time. Last weekend, Cassini dipped down close to Enceladus to “taste” the jets that erupt from its surface. For some background on Enceladus, see my entry [...]

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Basic Space

Explaining Titan’s Alien Weather System

A composite image taken by Cassini on a fly by in 2005. This is roughly what Titan would look like to the human eye. Credit: {link url="http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06230"}NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute{/link}

Underneath Titan’s dense atmosphere lies something rather unusual, by terrestrial standards. Some features of the Saturnian moon, at first glance, might look similar to some features we have on Earth — it is the only other body in the solar system with lakes, and appears to have an active weather system. But instead of water, [...]

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Basic Space

Cassini helps us peek underneath the surface of Enceladus

Tiger stripes on Enceladus

The Cassini spacecraft is zooming around Saturn as I type, currently in between two flybys of Saturn’s moon Titan – one was in June, the next will be September. It was supposed to explore Saturn and its moons for only four years between 2004 and 2008. But after two mission extensions it is still going [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Water Erupts Across the Solar System

Europa erupts (Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI)

Reading the scientific headlines recently one would be forgiven for thinking that we’re experiencing a bout of interplanetary gastrointestinal distress. First, Saturn’s diminutive moon Enceladus continues to spew what we think are giant sprays of salty water from gnarled creases in its southern icy surface – captured in glorious imagery by the Cassini spacecraft over [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Earth Waves To Saturn: The Pictures

IMG004880-br500

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, or in this case 1,400 pictures are worth a few words. Here is the collage of images uploaded by people across the planet for NASA’s Cassini ‘Wave at Saturn’ event on July 19th 2013, while Cassini snapped Earth in turn, as a teeny, tiny dot of [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Return To The Pale Blue Dot

The original pale blue dot - Earth from 3.7 billion miles away (NASA/JPL/Voyager)

One of the most enduring and captivating images from our exploration of space in the late 20th century was Voyager 1′s mosaic of our own solar system – a family portrait from 3.7 billion miles away. Captured in these shots was a faint speck of bluish light, in one single pixel of Voyager’s digital camera, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

A Jupiter Carousel: Hotspots Ride The Wave

Jupiter seen by Cassini (NASA)

New analysis of data taken by the Cassini mission during its encounter with Jupiter in 2000 reveal that exceptionally clear atmospheric ‘hotspots’ effectively ride up and down in the Jovian skies as they are formed by what’s known as a Rossby wave – a phenomenon familiar to us here on Earth. The authors of the [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup II

Life in all it's glory... (Credit: C. Scharf)

It’s been a busy season for research that comes in under the astrobiology umbrella, here’s a smattering of some of the more interesting recent discoveries and studies.       The youngest solar system….so far. Locating and studying the birth of stars and planets is an enormous challenge, but a vital component in learning about [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Vortex

Northern polar view (NASA/Cassini)

This is simply too good to pass up, although it’s been doing the rounds online. As the seasons change on Saturn the north polar region is now getting its share of faint solar illumination. Cassini recently (very recently, as in Nov 27th) took this amazing image of the swirling atmospheric circulation at the northern pole [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Saturn Is Alive, No CGI

Janus above Saturn (NASA/Cassini)

It seems that the Saturnian system just keeps on giving when it comes to amazing imagery. Of course it helps to have a $3 billion space mission in place like Cassini to record everything going on. From Saturn The Movie, to The Austere Beauty Of Other Worlds, and Raw Footage From An Alien World, I’ve [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Raw Footage From An Alien World

Swinging around, Enceladus against a backdrop of noise and what may be stars (Cassini raw image)

Have you ever wondered what it would really be like for a person to journey to a truly distant and alien place; another planet, even another planetary system? What kind of things would we first see through our windows, or our cameras? What would our sensory experience be in such a distant realm? Would we [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Austere Beauty of Other Worlds

Magnificent Saturn, subtle blue and gold tones, while its moon Dione circles in silence (NASA/JPL)

In the northern winter months we are surrounded by the stark beauty of chilled landscapes. From the darkness of the far north, broken perhaps only by starlight and the glow of aurora, to the brisk grey streets of Manhattan and its now skeletal trees with their claw-like limbs and knobbly stubs pressed to the skies, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Saturn, the movie

Saturn post equinox

This extraordinary excerpt is from an upcoming Imax movie that uses Cassini orbiter imagery (NO computer generated images) to create some stunning flybys and flythroughs of the Saturnian system. Cassini has taken so many high-res pictures that this stitched together footage is possible. All I can say is “wow”. We truly are a species that [...]

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Observations

This Video Montage of Saturn’s Rings and Moons Is Simply Gorgeous [Video]

For more than nine years, NASA’s Cassini probe has orbited Saturn, examining its rings and moons in unprecedented detail and sending back images of things and places humans had never seen. Filmmaker Fabio di Donato has managed to collapse that discovery and wonder into four minutes. In a new film posted on Vimeo, di Donato [...]

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Observations

Cassini Spacecraft Takes 1 Last Look at Home Today

Photo credit: CICLOPS, JPL, ESA, NASA

For a quarter-hour today, some of us on Earth can look up and know that almost a billion miles away, above the sky, a set of robotic eyes is looking right back. The Cassini spacecraft will be passing into Saturn’s shadow at that time, slewing its cameras to catch the planet’s majestic rings backlit by [...]

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Observations

Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Unprecedented Saturn Storm

Saturn storm, 2011

Just as regions of our planet have monsoon season, or tornado season, so too does Saturn have its own stormy season. Once every Saturn year or so—which corresponds to roughly 30 Earth years—a giant, churning storm works its way through the clouds of Saturn’s northern hemisphere, sometimes encircling the entire planet like a belt. Lasting [...]

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Observations

What caused Saturn to lurch? Second dispatch from the annual planets meeting

Rings of Saturn

FAJARDO, Puerto Rico—I first heard about Matt Hedman’s talk while going out to dinner on Tuesday night. Best talk of the meeting, I was told. Everywhere I went yesterday, I kept hearing about this guy Matt Hedman. A former professor of mine chided me for missing his presentation. The problem with the Division for Planetary [...]

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The Countdown

The Countdown, Episode 14 – Inflatable Space Station, Monkey Launch, Lunar Hedgehogs, Martian Groundwater, Saturn’s Super-Sized Storm

[The text below is a modified transcript of this video.] 5) Inflatable Space Station We’re this close to having a bouncy castle in space. NASA just ordered an inflatable module that will attach to the International Space Station. Start up company Bigelow Aerospace won an 18 million dollar contract from NASA to build the Bigelow [...]

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