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The Official *Saturn* Exploration Thread
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-18, 23:22

IIRC, some of the compositional analysis of Moon rocks that helped confirm historical origin yet Lunar uniqueness was the particular balance of other rare radioactive isotopes. Bombardment by cosmic rays on the Moon causes further changes (some of which allow us to confirm they're not recently of Earth), but the 'fingerprinting' is primarily isotopic concentrations. Martian meteorites are also distinct due to their own isotopic fingerprint.

As for the actual process by which the Moon was fractured off the early Earth, there are some NASA simulations of this done with varying degrees of particle dynamics and physics precision over the years. Some astronomy software (Starry Night, IIRC) also includes animations of this event in their multimedia gallery on CD/DVD.
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709
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2004-06-18, 23:32

All this moon talk is very curious, because I've been led to believe the moon is either:

1) Older than the earth. How or when this postulate entered my brain I haven't a clue, but this is my first memory in regards to the moon.

2) A chunk split from the Earth in it's early stages of formation. 'Tiamet' comes to mind, though I don't remember exactly why. Something Sumerian I think...

Regardless, I love a big moon. Tycho is my favorite.

So it goes.
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2004-06-19, 00:43

Thanks Moogs for the insight into the astronomy profession. I can totally understand and appreciate how demanding it must be to make it into this profession - your use of the word "God" in terms of being able to perform those mathematical calculations is not lost on me!

As for the books, I'll take a raincheck presently. There's a book by Laurel that was recommended in another thread and some letters of Reagan's that I want to read first! For now this thread will have to suffice as my first foray into this area.

All I want is a simple life
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Moogs
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2004-06-19, 09:05

No problem. It's probably a wise idea to get your other books and magazine stacks out of the way before buying any Astronomy texts. I have found that once I start getting into that, I get more and more curious and start buying more books. Call it an addiction.

Anyway, I have two National Geographics, two Wired, two MIT Tech Reviews and a Scientific American in the Queue currently and I'm feeling like a slouch because of it. Until recently it was raining all the time around here... shoulda cleared the decks!


...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-21, 10:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by 709
All this moon talk is very curious, because I've been led to believe the moon is either:

1) Older than the earth. How or when this postulate entered my brain I haven't a clue, but this is my first memory in regards to the moon.

2) A chunk split from the Earth in it's early stages of formation. 'Tiamet' comes to mind, though I don't remember exactly why. Something Sumerian I think...

Regardless, I love a big moon. Tycho is my favorite.
Space.com actually has some updates to the theory today, "Earth Hit by Neighbour in Making of Moon"
including revised suppositions as to where the colliding body came for.
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709
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2004-06-21, 10:30

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
Space.com actually has some updates to the theory today, "Earth Hit by Neighbour in Making of Moon"
including revised suppositions as to where the colliding body came for.
Thanks! I'll check it out once their server stops getting slammed.
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Moogs
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2004-06-24, 09:47

Have you guys seen the cover and insert map for this month's National Geographic? Holy crap... it's all about the Sun and its internal workings. Seriously awesome stuff for an Astronomy buff. I'm trying to figure out where to hang this poster. It's a closeup shot of two sun spots, taken from a special telescope. Just amazing and awe-inspiring.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-25, 14:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
Have you guys seen the cover and insert map for this month's National Geographic? Holy crap... it's all about the Sun and its internal workings. Seriously awesome stuff for an Astronomy buff. I'm trying to figure out where to hang this poster. It's a closeup shot of two sun spots, taken from a special telescope. Just amazing and awe-inspiring.
If you like those, check out http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/
The "Best of SOHO" page has some sweet solar shots.
Haven't seen the issue of NG in question, but the newest observer is TRACE
TRACE Picture of the day (click for full 1024x830):
Caption and info here
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Moogs
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2004-06-25, 14:25

Nnniiiiiice.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-25, 14:35

Meanwhile, yesterday's Cassini briefing included data and imagery from Phoebe.

Confirmation of Water Ice proves origin as Kuiper Object from outer solar system not asteroid.

Confirmation of Carbon Dioxide, Ferrous Iron, and 'unidentified material' compound.


Quote:
Phoebes Mineral Distribution
June 23, 2004 . . . Full-Res: PIA06400

These set of images were created during the Phoebe flyby on June 11, 2004. The images show the location and distribution of water-ice, ferric iron, carbon dioxide and an unidentified material on the tiny moon of Saturn. The first image was taken with Cassini's narrow angle camera and is shown for comparison purposes only. The other images were taken by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer onboard Cassini.

The infrared image of Phoebe obtained at a distance of about 16,000 km (10,000 miles) shows a large range of bright and dark features. The resolution of the image is about 4 km (2.5 miles). carbon dioxide on the surface of Phoebe is distributed globally, although it appears to be more prevalent in the darker regions of the satellite.

The existence of carbon dioxide strongly suggests that Phoebe did not originate in the asteroid belt, but rather in much colder regions of the Solar System such as the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a vast reservoir of small, primitive bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. An unidentified substance also appears to be more abundant in the darker regions.

A map showing the distribution of water ice (blue), ferric iron (red), which is common in minerals on Earth and other planets, and the unidentified material (green). Water ice is associated with the brighter regions, while the other two materials are more abundant in the darker regions.
NASA TV plans the following coverage (all times EST)
Quote:

June 29, Tuesday
12 p.m. - Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion Press Conference - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
3 p.m. - 7 p.m. - Live Interviews on Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion (Interactive Media Briefing)

June 30, Wednesday
12 p.m. - Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion Status Press Conference - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
1 p.m. - NASA Honor Awards - HQ (Employee Event)
2 p.m. - News briefing: "17 countries, 7 years, 1 planet, The International Aspects of Cassini" - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
5 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. - "Ringside Chat" Press Conference - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. - Live Interviews on Cassini Mission - JPL (One-Way Media Interviews)
9:30 p.m. - 12:40 a.m. (July 1) - Live Commentary from Mission Control of Cassini-Huygens arrival at Saturn - JPL (Mission Coverage)

July

July 1, Thursday
1 a.m. - Cassini News Briefing: Post-Saturn arrival - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
7:45 a.m. - 11 a.m. - Live Commentary on Cassini's First Images (taken during orbit insertion) - JPL (Mission Coverage)
1 p.m. - News briefing: Cassini Saturn arrival first pictures - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)
3 p.m. - 7 p.m. - Live Interviews on Cassini Mission - JPL (One-Way Media Interviews)

July 2, Friday
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. - Live Interviews with Dennis Boccippio on NASA's role in studying "Lightning and Lightning Safety Awareness" - MSFC (One-Way Media Interviews)
2 p.m - Cassini Preliminary Science Press Update - JPL (Interactive Media Briefing)

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-06-25 at 14:40.
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709
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2004-06-25, 14:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
...but the newest observer is TRACE
Holy crap. Those images are freakin' unbelievably cool.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-25, 15:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by 709
Holy crap. Those images are freakin' unbelievably cool.
Agreed.

And if this ain't the spitting image of an Creative Sun God....


While the left menu link to movies leads primarily to grayscale versions,
the POD Archive pages have some colour movies too.

Rain

Solar Tornadoes

Filaments decay in magnetic arcades in Bastille Day Slinky

Shit. Now I have to start a *Sun* Exploration Thread.
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Moogs
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2004-06-25, 16:35

That figure actually looks kind of demonic to me... spooooky.

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autodata
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2004-06-29, 09:57

It sounds nuts that they are passing this thing so close to the rings. I want to see the pictures.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-29, 12:54

Today's Pre-Saturn Orbit Insertion Briefing was 'all systems go' for Cassini to get captured in 20 hours.

Navigation reports that after 7 years in space and 4.5 Billion kilometers travel, with the help of 4 gravity assists from Venus, Earth, and Jupiter and a few trajectory correction maneuvers, they expect SOI absolute accuracy to within 11 km, relative accuracy within 3 or 4 km. :wow:


details here

The pass through the ring plane is well outside the densest rings, and the high gain antenna will rotate to face the direction of travel to act as a shield for the spacecraft in case of smaller particle impacts.

The maximum camera resolution at closest ring plane approach will be about 120 meters per pixel, while most ring particles are expected to be on the order of 10 meters or less in diameter, so seeing individual grains of ring material isn't going to happen. They'll be analyzing structure and potentially doing fluid dynamics to attempt to replicate patterns, and using the far ultraviolet and spectrographic systems to get compositional info.

First Titan encounter (of 43 during the mission) will take place July 2nd as well... so we get some ring data, then some Titan data quite early. Though of course, the delay from Saturn is about 1 hour 23 minutes and change.

This latest movie of Titan looks inviting.


They've already measured interaction with Saturn's magnetosphere, and rotational audio.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-06-29 at 13:01.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-30, 20:13

Live commentary for the Saturn Orbit Insertion is due to start at 1830 PST on NASA TV.
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709
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2004-06-30, 20:58

10 minutes to Ring Plane Crossing......

I'm so excited!!!
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-30, 21:31

Cassini has survived the ascending Ring plane crossing.

Doppler confirms signal. SOI engine burn will start at 19:36 PST.
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-30, 21:37

Main Engine Burn!
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709
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2004-06-30, 21:41

'High-Five'-ing space nerds are cute.
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Kickaha
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2004-06-30, 21:48

Another 75 minutes... let's hope someone remembered to code up the endBurn() method...
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curiousuburb
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2004-06-30, 23:15

end of burn within 1 second of nominal predict.

Successful Orbit Insertion!

now for some photos...
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drewprops
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2004-06-30, 23:15

According to the guy on NASA TV right now they hit within one second of the predicts, lots of whooping and hollering right now. I think we still have one more pass through the rings, but here's hoping to 4+ years of great science from Saturn!

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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drewprops
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2004-06-30, 23:16

jinx, you're it!
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709
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2004-07-01, 07:55

Raw images coming down...
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709
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2004-07-01, 08:58

Some very cool stuff! Can't wait until they get processed.
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Moogs
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2004-07-01, 09:14

[cartman]Sweeeeet.[/cartman]
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curiousuburb
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2004-07-01, 09:24

Cassini's first image of the rings (unprocessed).

Quote:
Image above: After becoming the first spacecraft to enter Saturn's orbit, Cassini sent back this image of a portion of the planet's rings. It was taken by the spacecraft's narrow angle camera and shows the dark, or unlit, side of the rings.
Press conference this morning might have processed versions of the first ring pics
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curiousuburb
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2004-07-01, 10:54

Unspecified caption yet, but this is the sunlit side...
looks like the F Ring and gap to A Ring just bulging into the center left edge.

It seems to me we can see the lit lower crescent of a moon inside and above the F Ring.


You can also clearly see perturbations or 'wake' in the F ring, perhaps due to the nearby moon.

Images and briefing to come this morning.
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709
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2004-07-01, 11:33

Is there a point when an orbiting piece of something-or-another becomes a 'moon' rather than just 'a big chunk'? Would it have something to do with the relation in size to the object it's orbiting?

So it goes.
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