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The Official *Saturn* Exploration Thread


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The Official *Saturn* Exploration Thread
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curiousuburb
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2004-05-18, 15:35

aka

Mr. Cassini Drops Mr. Huygens at Titan, then Tours the Rings and Moons

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm - NASA's Official Home Page of the Mission

First Encounter: with Moon Phoebe - Jun 11 2004
Expected Saturn Orbit Insertion - July 1 2004 (43 days and counting)


Already sending back some impressive new pictures

and discovering more details about the atmospheric haze around Titan

Once the inline images here get Safari-friendlier,
I'll see if I can add the telemetry as I did in the Mars thread at .com

No tinfoilhats, please, or Mr. Saturn might go Goya on ya.
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addabox
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2004-05-18, 17:10

Breathtaking.

God I hope we don't lose contact with Huygens before it can give us some solid telemetry form Titan.

Cause, as we all know, Titan's seas are teeming with life...

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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curiousuburb
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2004-05-19, 01:12

These telemetry images should update once a day... 19,758 kph !!!



also worth checking out is the spiffy Flash Video about who, what, how, and why we're exploring

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-05-19 at 01:26.
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addabox
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2004-05-19, 01:55

Fantastic.

My dad worked the Mercury, Gemini and early Apollo missions (he was a Boeing engineer) and it's great to see NASA out there, getting the goods. I can't see how anybody could fail to be thrilled by these kinds of images and data.

I just wish they had the budget to pepper the solar system with these probes.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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drewprops
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2004-05-19, 08:04

In the great tradition of the Official Mars Exploration Thread...awesome! That's one mother of a mover.
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Mac+
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2004-05-19, 08:45

man - I forgot how impressive all this stuff is. I gotta get out more.
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Moogs
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2004-05-20, 19:26

Excellent thread idea. I saw a special on this the other night and had the same thought but forgot to post one. Cassini is a really exciting mission.

Another cool NASA project that's about to come online: SOFIA

Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. It's an *airborne* telescope with an eight foot mirror that is suspended in some kind of oil-based solution. Nice...

Then there's the LBT or Large Bincoluar Telescope project which will enable us to actually see many newly discovered planets that are currently too close to their companion stars to be viewed directly.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2004-05-20, 20:17

That's no moon... it's a space station.



Crisper pictures of this satellite (this one from Voyager1) will impress,
but if we discover an equatorial trench system, George Lucas will get some calls.
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curiousuburb
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2004-05-24, 23:03

Pandora, Prometheus and Epimetheus Near F Ring

Two of Saturn's moon's Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) and Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across), are seen here shepherding the planet's narrow F-ring. Prometheus overtakes Pandora in orbit around Saturn about every 25 days. Slightly above the pair and to the right is another moon, Epimetheus (116 kilometers, or 72 miles across). The image was taken with the narrow angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft on May 1, 2004, at a distance of 31.4 million kilometers (19.5 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 187 kilometers (116 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified and greatly contrast-enhanced to aid visibility. from here

there are some animations and videos online, in addition to the awesome Flash I linked above,

Also worth linking, perhaps Ciclops... the Cassini Imager Home Page. Treklike Blog and all.

Anybody with educational interest, kids, or origamiphilia will want to check the Products page.
down at the bottom are two downloadable models in PDF form.
1/40 scale
or 1/37 scale (with detachable Huygens probe!)

each download is under 200k zipped

*loads printer*
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-05, 13:36

In "Concert for another world" news,
After an unsuccessful attempt by the British Band Blur to perform in an alien atmosphere when the Beagle probe was lost en route to the Martian surface, a young Frenchman awaits the performance of four of his songs on the surface of Titan courtesy of the Huygens probe.

http://music2titan.com/

Meanwhile... Cassini's latest colour shot


original here with higher res image links
Quote:
As Cassini coasts into the final month of its nearly seven-year trek, the serene majesty of its destination looms ahead. The spacecraft's cameras are functioning beautifully and continue to return stunning views from Cassini's position, 1.2 billion kilometers (750 million miles) from Earth and now 15.7 million kilometers (9.8 million miles) from Saturn.

In this narrow angle camera image from May 21, 2004, the ringed planet displays subtle, multi-hued atmospheric bands, colored by yet undetermined compounds. Cassini mission scientists hope to determine the exact composition of this material.

This image also offers a preview of the detailed survey Cassini will conduct on the planet's dazzling rings. Slight differences in color denote both differences in ring particle composition and light scattering properties.

Images taken through blue, green and red filters were combined to create this natural color view. The image scale is 132 kilometers (82 miles) per pixel.
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Moogs
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2004-06-05, 13:56

Stunning... I will definitely being keeping any eye on this thread as the countdown nears.
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sCreeD
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2004-06-05, 15:10

To paraphrase a sarcastic coworker, Wasn't this the spacecraft with the plutonium battery that could destroy all mankind if the launch failed?

Sevem years later, mankind still intact, even the chicken littles should be impressed by the results.

Screed
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Moogs
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2004-06-05, 18:33

Nothing so stupid as people who think that radiation can "pollute" space, when every star in existence is spewing high levels of radiation all over the place. I can understand the fear of losing a nuclear propelled vehicle at launch, because earth's ecosystem - unlike the vacuum of space - can be damaged by such things... but to persist in the protests long after it's left earth's grasp is just... Gomer-like.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-11, 21:27

First encounter with Phoebe (perhaps captured Kuiper Belt Object or asteroid)

Click for Caption and Video
Phoebe Looms in View - June 11, 2004
Phoebe, Saturn's largest outer moon, is the first target of exploration for the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft. A short video clip shows images taken by the spacecraft as it approached Phoebe.
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Moogs
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2004-06-11, 22:59

Definitely irregular-shaped object... not rounded like the other moons in the solar system. Captured asteroid sounds about right, given its size and mass.
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2004-06-11, 23:19

That image of Saturn (a few posts up) is beautiful... but almost "too neat".

I prefer the realism of the moon, Phoebe - and yes, it does look like it took a pounding from something at some stage!

Still, I'll keeping popping by here once in a while - the images are beautiful. Thanks for starting it up curiousuburb!

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curiousuburb
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2004-06-13, 12:59

Phoebe Rotation Movie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassini-Huygens
Phoebe rotates through nearly one full rotation in this animated sequence of nine frames, taken on Cassini's approach to the small moon on June 10, 2004. Phoebe rotates on its axis once every 9 hours and 16 minutes; this sequence spans 8 hours and 14 minutes; all 360 degrees of longitude on Phoebe are visible in this sequence.

The surface is clearly covered by impact craters of a wide range of sizes, up to 40 percent of the diameter of the moon, creating rugged topography, illustrated dramatically along the terminator and limb.

The images that make up this sequence were obtained at a phase, or Sun-Phoebe-spacecraft, angle of 87 degrees, and from distances ranging from 877,453 kilometers (545,341 miles) to 688,924,000 kilometers (428,169 miles). The image scale ranges from 5.3 to 4.1 kilometers (3.3 to 2.6 miles) per pixel. To aid visibility, the images were magnified three times via linear interpolation; no contrast enhancement was performed.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org.


Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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2004-06-13, 13:19

These images are incredible!
Quote:
from distances ranging from 877,453 kilometers (545,341 miles) to 688,924,000 kilometers (428,169 miles). The image scale ranges from 5.3 to 4.1 kilometers (3.3 to 2.6 miles) per pixel. To aid visibility, the images were magnified three times via linear interpolation; no contrast enhancement was performed.
It really makes you stop and think about just how small we are. (I'm writing essays at the moment and am wrapped up in my own little world of stress and "what ifs" ... but this stuff is a great leveler!)

Oh and btw: man, something BIG or some big things have definitely collided with poor old "Phoebes".

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curiousuburb
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2004-06-14, 21:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac+
Oh and btw: man, something BIG or some big things have definitely collided with poor old "Phoebes".
But the latest closeups of the crater have provided hints of water-ice. Craters can be good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassini-Huygens
A Skyline View
June 14, 2004

Images like this one, showing bright wispy streaks thought to be ice revealed by subsidence of crater walls, are leading to the view that Phoebe is an ice-rich body overlain with a thin layer of dark material. Obvious down slope motion of material occurring along the walls of the major craters in this image is the cause for the bright streaks, which are over-exposed here. Significant slumping has occurred along the crater wall at top left.

The slumping of material might have occurred by a small projectile punching into the steep slope of the wall of a pre-existing larger crater. Another possibility is that the material collapsed when triggered by another impact elsewhere on Phoebe. Note that the bright, exposed areas of ice are not very uniform along the wall. Small craters are exposing bright material on the hummocky floor of the larger crater.

Elsewhere on this image, there are local areas of outcropping along the larger crater wall where denser, more resistant material is located. Whether these outcrops are large blocks being exhumed by landslides or actual 'bedrock' is not currently understood.

The crater on the left, with most of the bright streamers, is about 45 kilometers (28 miles) in diameter, front to back as viewed. The larger depression in which the crater sits is on the order of 100 kilometers (62 miles) across. The slopes from the rim down to the hummocky floor are approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) long; many of the bright streamers on the crater wall are on the order of 10 kilometers (6 miles) long. A future project for Cassini image scientists will be to work out the chronology of slumping events in this scene.

This image was obtained at a phase, or Sun-Phoebe-spacecraft, angle of 78 degrees, and from a distance of 11,918 kilometers (7,407 miles). The image scale is approximately 70 meters (230 feet) per pixel. No enhancement was performed on this image.


Images collected during Cassini's close flyby of Saturn's moon, Phoebe, have yielded strong evidence that the tiny object may contain ice-rich material, overlain with a thin layer of darker material perhaps 300 to 500 meters (980 to 1,600 feet) thick.

The surface of Phoebe is also heavily potholed with large and small craters. Images reveal bright streaks in the ramparts of the largest craters, bright rays which emanate from smaller craters, and uninterrupted grooves across the face of the body.

"The imaging team is in hot debate at the moment on the interpretations of our findings," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "Based on our images, some of us are leaning towards the view that has been promoted recently, that Phoebe is probably ice-rich and may be an object originating in the outer solar system, more related to comets and Kuiper Belt objects than to asteroids."

In ascertaining Phoebe's origin, imaging scientists are noting important differences between the surface of Phoebe and that of rocky asteroids which have been seen at comparable resolution. "Asteroids seen up close, like Ida, Mathilde, and Eros, and the small martian satellites do not have the bright 'speckling' associated with the small craters that are seen on Phoebe," said Dr. Peter Thomas, an imaging team member from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

The landforms observed in the highest resolution images also contain clues to the internal structure of Phoebe. Dr. Alfred McEwen, an imaging team member from the University of Arizona, Tucson, said, "Phoebe is a world of dramatic landforms, with craters everywhere, landslides, and linear structures such as grooves, ridges, and chains of pits. These are clues to the internal properties of Phoebe, which we'll be looking at very closely in order to understand Phoebe's origin and evolution."

"I think these images are showing us an ancient remnant of the bodies that formed over four billion years ago in the outer reaches of the solar system," said Dr. Torrence Johnson, an imaging team member from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Battered and beat-up as it is, it is still giving us clues to its origin and history."

Phoebe may be an icy interloper from the distant outer solar system which found itself captured by giant Saturn in its earliest, formative years. Final conclusions on Phoebe's origins await a combination of the results on Phoebe's surface structures, mass and composition gathered from all 11 instruments, which collected data during the flyby on June 11, 2004.

"This has been an impressive whirlwind flyby and it's only a curtain raiser on the events about to begin," said Porco.

Cassini arrives in orbit around Saturn on the evening of June 30, 2004 (July 1 Universal Time).

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org .

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
There are several other new images of Phoebe in the Image Gallery

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-06-14 at 21:30.
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Moogs
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2004-06-14, 22:05

:wow:
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-14, 22:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
:wow:
If you think that crater photo is impressive, check out this one called Phoebe's Surprise
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassini-Huygens
Phoebe's Surprise
June 13, 2004
Phoebe delivers on its promise to reveal new wonders to Cassini by showing probable evidence of an ice-rich body overlain with a thin layer of dark material. The sharply-defined crater at above center exhibits two or more layers of alternating bright and dark material. Imaging scientists on the Cassini mission have hypothesized that the layering might occur during the crater formation, when ejecta thrown out from the crater buries the pre-existing surface that was itself covered by a relatively thin, dark deposit over an icy mantle. The lower thin dark layer on the crater wall appears to define the base of the ejecta blanket. The ejecta blanket itself appears to be mantled by a more recent dark surface lag.
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Moogs
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2004-06-15, 18:54

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2004-06-15, 23:51

So Phoebe could have been flying by from another solar system and Saturn pulled her into its orbit? What does this mean for our moon? How did we get that?

(... to be folowed up, of course, by: "Who are we?" & "Why are we here?")

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Moogs
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2004-06-16, 23:07

Based on the composition of Moon rocks and other factors, one popular astronomical theory is that the Moon is a conglomeration of materials that resulted from a long-ago collision between the earth and a very large asteroid / comet / planetesimal body.

The way the rocks were formed and the amount of dust on the surface suggest the Moon was at one time mostly molten (which would could result from molten rock and ejecta being shot into space from a massive collision early in our planet's history). In fact the carbon dating indicates the Moon is [basically the same age as the similar rocks dated on earth].

...into the light of a dark black night.
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HOM
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2004-06-16, 23:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
In fact the carbon dating indicates the Moon is [basically the same age as the similar rocks dated on earth].
It's been a while since I took Geology, but don't you need organic material to do Carbon 14 dating?

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Moogs
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2004-06-17, 08:59

Not sure how you're defining "organic", but much of the moon is convered with basalt rock like the kind found on earth, and evidently it can be dated. Good question though; I'm open to any different interpretations....

For reference:
Quote:
ba-salt

n.
A hard, dense, dark volcanic rock composed chiefly of plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine, and often having a glassy appearance.
Anything in that description fit your definition of "organic"? Maybe they were dated, just not with Carbon-14? Possible I misinterpretted something I read.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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2004-06-18, 01:13

Thanks Moogs - I never knew that was how our moon started! Freaky!

Were you an astronomy kid at school - where did you pick up this knowledge? I'm really just learning all this stuff from checking out this thread. Oh well, better late than never! (I guess space and astronomy were never major points of fascination for me as a kid - my loss evidently. I'm really intrigued by the grandeur and enormity of this exploration and research into our solar system!)

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Moogs
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2004-06-18, 08:49

I was definitely an astronomy kid from the time I was in middle school, through high school. I've always been interested in this kind of thing. Probably I would have majored in Astronomy or Astro-physics if I was more mathematically inclined. Once you reach college, astronomy goes from neat pictures and their stories, to heavy-duty equations and number-crunching. Then if you're a God at that, you could try your hand at getting an advanced degree in some particular branch like Cosmology, but I imagine most people wash out of those programs.

All these guys we see on the Science channel (Tuesday nights are a very good source of Astronomy info) are pretty much God's in their chosen field I think. Astronomy and Cosmology are two of those odd profressions where, if you're not among the very best minds in the world, you don't get a job and end up teaching Atronomy 101 at the local university or Physics at the local high school. Very difficult profession to break into, probably because there's not a lot of funding to go around, so what does go around lands with the very cream of the crop, so to speak.

Some good books for you:

The Invisible Universe - by David Malin
(Most a photo book, but it's a really well-crafted collection of large format photos... you will be awe-struck).

Hubble Vision - by Peterson & Grant

Hubble Revisited - by Fischer & Duerbeck

Orbit - National Geographic
(Views of earth from space, with some good science tidbits for each).

The Illustrated Edition of A Brief History of Time - by Stephen Hawking
(Good visual primer for the basic tenets of cosmology and astro-physics)

Pale Blue Dot - by Carl Sagan
(Good primer on space exploration and other areas)


...and finally, a good link to get you to the real meaty stuff, if you're so inclined.


http://publishing.cambridge.org/stm/astronomy/

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-18, 20:17

Quote:
Cassini Spacecraft Makes Final Course Change to Saturn

PASADENA, California (AP) _ The Cassini spacecraft successfully completed what is expected to be its last course-correction maneuver before reaching Saturn, NASA said Thursday.

The maneuver, performed Wednesday, adjusted the course Cassini will take to pass through a gap between two of Saturn's rings when the craft enters orbit on June 30.

"This should be our final approach maneuver. It's on to Saturn and orbit insertion," said Earl Maize, deputy program manager for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

During the maneuver, Cassini's main engine burned for 38 seconds to slow the craft by about 8 mph (13 kph). Tracking data will be evaluated over several days to ensure that the path is correct.

"All indications show that everything is on target," the National Aeronautics and Space Administration statement said.
NASA TV has pre Orbit Insertion Press Conferences on the 29th and 30th, currently plans a post Orbit Insertion Press Conference on the 1st and already has a preliminary Cassini Science Briefing set for July 2nd with photos of the rings the closest they'll ever be during the 4 year mission.

www.Scaled.com 's Pioneering Private Spaceflight is scheduled for this coming Monday.
Pilot choice still 'up in the air'.

And... it sounds like we might get bonus Bootid meteor showers Tuesday night and next weekend.

*prepares for kink in neck from looking up*
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HOM
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2004-06-18, 23:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
Not sure how you're defining "organic", but much of the moon is convered with basalt rock like the kind found on earth, and evidently it can be dated. Good question though; I'm open to any different interpretations....
Carbon 14 dating as far as I remember from Rocks For Jocks (Geology 101), requires dead organic material, be it plant or animal life. I might be wrong, but I'm too tired to google it right now and I don't really want to derail this thread further.
Quote:
For reference:

Anything in that description fit your definition of "organic"? Maybe they were dated, just not with Carbon-14? Possible I misinterpretted something I read.
There a lots of ways of dating rocks. But they fall into two categories, direct and indirect dating. Direct, as its name implies, can be used to determine a specific date that the rock was formed or placed where it is. An example would be finding fossils of animals that we know the dates that they lived or an event like Mt. Vesuvius erupting for which we have a good time frame. The other type is based on our knowledge of how rocks form and which ones form first. There is also complex folding, but I'm not sure that would survive in a comet. We don't know how old the rock is, but we know which rock is older.

Regardless, if NASA thinks they have a good idea how old the rock is, I trust them. Shit, they put a man on the fucking moon, I bow to their knowledge of science.

CARTHAGO DELENDA EST

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