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The Official *Saturn* Exploration Thread
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curiousuburb
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2004-11-30, 23:06

Inspiring true-colour Cassini picture of the week... Mimas against the rings shadow.



Quote:

Nature's Canvas
November 29, 2004
Full-Res: PIA06142

In a splendid portrait created by light and gravity, Saturn's lonely moon Mimas is seen against the cool, blue-streaked backdrop of Saturn's northern hemisphere. Delicate shadows cast by the rings arc gracefully across the planet, fading into darkness on Saturn's night side.

The part of the atmosphere seen here appears darker and more bluish than the warm brown and gold hues seen in Cassini images of the southern hemisphere, due to preferential scattering of blue wavelengths by the cloud-free upper atmosphere.

The bright blue swath near Mimas (398 kilometers, or 247 miles across) is created by sunlight passing through the Cassini division (4,800 kilometers, or 2,980 miles wide). The rightmost part of this distinctive feature is slightly overexposed and therefore bright white in this image. Shadows of several thin ringlets within the division can be seen here as well. The dark band that stretches across the center of the image is the shadow of Saturn's B ring, the densest of the main rings. Part of the actual Cassini division appears at the bottom, along with the A ring and the narrow, outer F ring. The A ring is transparent enough that, from this viewing angle, the atmosphere and threadlike shadows cast by the inner C ring are visible through it.

Images taken with red, green and blue filters were combined to create this color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Nov. 7, 2004, at a distance of 3.7 million kilometers (2.3 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 22 kilometers (14 miles) per pixel.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-11-30 at 23:17.
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curiousuburb
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2004-12-11, 15:54

Some fabulous new photos have been parked on the Cassini Gallery pages in the past week, including Iapetus and more Ring shots and more as we approach the Titan-B flyby 12/13 and Dione closest approach 12/15 on our way to the biggest event of the mission so far.

I'll be airborne for some of this on approach to the UK (explained in another thread), but will try to update again before Huygens probe release in two weeks.

Choice among the uploads are these two showing Prometheus mooching material and potentially causing more wake disturbances and perturbations in the F ring, and a quicktime movie called "Tilt and Whirl".


Quote:
Thieving Moon
December 3, 2004 _ Full-Res: PIA06143

As it completed its first orbit of Saturn, Cassini zoomed in on the rings to catch this wondrous view of the shepherd moon Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) working its influence on the multi-stranded and kinked F ring.

The F ring resolves into five separate strands in this closeup view. Potato-shaped Prometheus is seen here, connected to the ringlets by a faint strand of material. Imaging scientists are not sure exactly how Prometheus is interacting with the F ring here, but they have speculated that the moon might be gravitationally pulling material away from the ring. The ringlets are disturbed in several other places. In some, discontinuities or "kinks" in the ringlets are seen; in others, gaps in the diffuse inner strands are seen. All these features appear to be due to the influence of Prometheus.

The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on Oct. 29, 2004, at a distance of about 782,000 kilometers (486,000 miles) from Prometheus and at a Sun-Prometheus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 147 degrees. The image scale is 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two, and contrast was enhanced, to aid visibility.

Quote:
Tilt and Whirl
December 3, 2004 _ Full-Res: PIA06144 _ QuickTime (1.7 MB)

Zigzagging kinks and knots dance around Saturn in this movie of the F ring from Cassini. From a great distance, as during Cassini's initial approach to Saturn in mid-2004, the F ring appears as a faint, knotted strand of material at the outer fringe of Saturn's immense ring system. From this close vantage point, just after the spacecraft rounded the planet to begin its second orbit, the F ring resolves into several ringlets with a bright central core. The core of the F ring is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide and is located at a distance of approximately 80,100 kilometers (49,800 miles) from Saturn's cloud tops.

Scientists have only a rough idea of the lifetime of features like knots and clumps in Saturn's rings, and studies of images, such as those comprising this movie, will help them piece together this story.

The view here is from Cassini's southern vantage point, below the ringplane. During the course of the movie sequence, Cassini was headed on a trajectory that took the spacecraft away from the planet and farther south, so that the rings appear to tilt farther upward. To help visualize this, note that the top portion of the F ring is closer to the spacecraft, while the bottom portion is farther away and curves around the far side of Saturn.

The movie consists of 44 frames taken three minutes apart, so that the span of time represented in the sequence is almost exactly two hours, or about one-eight of a Saturn rotation. The images that comprise this movie sequence were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Oct. 28, 2004, and at distances ranging from approximately 516,000 kilometers (321,000 miles) to 562,000 kilometers (349,000 miles). No enhancement was performed on the images.
Get ready for mainstream media coverage to ramp up in advance of the 12/26 Huygens release.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2004-12-11 at 16:04.
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curiousuburb
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2004-12-27, 10:36

Huygens released on time and on target... Titan here we come... landing Jan 14th.

True colour Cassini picture of the week... Saturn, Titan, and (hard to spot) Mimas.


Quote:
Cassini's Holiday Greetings
December 24, 2004 Full-Res: PIA06164

From its station nearly 1.2 billion kilometers (746 million miles) from Earth, the stalwart Cassini spacecraft sends holiday greetings to Earth with this lovely color portrait of Saturn and two of its moons.

The 2004 holiday season marks the close of a miraculous year that saw the end of Cassini's long journey across the solar system and the beginning of its adventures in orbit around Saturn. In a triumph of human achievement, the Cassini mission has already returned thousands of images and has begun to uncover the mysteries of the Saturn system. This color portrait serves as reminder of the Saturnian places we have already seen and the promise of future discovery at Titan when the European Space Agency's Huygens probe arrives at Titan on Jan. 14, 2005.

The image shows the majestic ringed planet, with bands of colorful clouds in its southern hemisphere. The planet's northern extremes have a cool bluish hue, due to scattering of blue wavelengths of sunlight by the cloud-free upper atmosphere there. Long shadows of the icy rings stretch across the north.

A grayish, oval-shaped storm is visible in Saturn's southern hemisphere and is easily 475 kilometers (295 miles) across - the size of some hurricanes on Earth.

Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across) is visible near lower right with its thick, orange-colored atmosphere, and faint Mimas (398 kilometers, or 247 miles across) appears just right of the rings' outer edge.

Images taken in the red, green and blue filters with the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on Dec. 14, 2004, were combined to create this color view at a distance of approximately 719,000 kilometers (447,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 43 kilometers (27 miles) per pixel.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-01-05 at 10:29.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-05, 10:34

And in news from that other groovy NASA planetary exploration mission about to celebrate a year exploring Mars when most predicted a 90-day warranty or failure... Videos and Flash features marking the year are up at the link above... the official celebration to come later this month.

Fragmented Shield


Quote:
Heat Shield Flank

This image from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows a portion of the heat shield that the spacecraft jettisoned shortly before landing. This flank piece broke off from the main piece of the heat shield upon impact. The crater created by the impact of the heat shield can be seen in the upper right of the image. Rover tracks appear across the top of the image. Opportunity took this image with its navigation camera during the rover's 331st martian day, or sol (Dec. 28, 2005).
From several new images approaching the Heat Shield here

See also the MER team's picks for the Rover's Top 10 Colour images of 2004
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Moogs
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2005-01-06, 01:18

Tangent: did you guys know there is a NASA TV station on DirecTV? Not always the most riveting stuff (dead air time with shots of the mission control consoles for example), but pretty cool anyway. Channel was in the 300s I think. Check it out if you have DTV.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-12, 00:41

Huygens is Go for Titan Entry Jan 14th...



Quote:
Go Huygens!
January 11, 2005 Full-Res: PIA06172


This map illustrates the planned imaging coverage for the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, onboard the European Space Agency's Huygens probe during the probe's descent toward Titan's surface on Jan. 14, 2005. The Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer is one of two NASA instruments on the probe.

The colored lines delineate regions that will be imaged at different resolutions as the probe descends. On each map, the site where Huygens is predicted to land is marked with a yellow dot. This area is in a boundary between dark and bright regions.

This map was made from the images taken by the Cassini spacecraft cameras on Oct. 26, 2004, at image scales of 4 to 6 kilometers (2.5 to 3.7 miles) per pixel. The images were obtained using a narrow band filter centered at 938 nanometers - a near-infrared wavelength (invisible to the human eye) at which light can penetrate Titan's atmosphere to reach the surface and return through the atmosphere to be detected by the camera. The images have been processed to enhance surface details. Only brightness variations on Titan's surface are seen; the illumination is such that there is no shading due to topographic variations.

For about two hours, the probe will fall by parachute from an altitude of 160 kilometers (99 miles) to Titan's surface. During the descent the camera on the probe and five other science instruments will send data about the moon's atmosphere and surface back to the Cassini spacecraft for relay to Earth. The Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer will take pictures as the probe slowly spins, and some these will be made into panoramic views of Titan's surface.

This map (PIA06172) shows the expected coverage by the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer side-looking imager and two downward-looking imagers - one providing medium-resolution and the other high-resolution coverage. The planned coverage by the medium- and high-resolution imagers is the subject of the second map (PIA06173).
Quote:

NASA TV/webcast will carry ESA TV during the Titan events.
Check the TV schedule for full details (all times listed are in Eastern Time).

January 13, Thursday
10:55 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Huygens Final Status News Conference From ESA

January 14, Friday
3 a.m. - Live Coverage Begins
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - Huygens Probe News Briefing (will confirm if data is being received)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m. - ESA Commentary and "Presentation of First Triplet Image of/data from Titan"

January 15, Saturday
5 a.m. - 6 a.m. - ESA News Briefing "Early Look at Science Results"
I know what I'll be watching this weekend.
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Moogs
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2005-01-12, 01:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
Huygens is Go for Titan Entry Jan 14th...
Thanks for keeping this in the fore-front of our minds. Truthfully much more important than anything Apple does.

I guess I should just stay up early Friday. I have to be at work very early to leave for a team road trip anyway. Might as well just sleep early on in the car anyway.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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drewprops
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2005-01-13, 23:57

If anyone wants to tune over to NASA-TV you can listen in to the pre-descent news conference for the Huygens probe, which will hit Titan's surface in the next 8 hours. I love it when NASA-TV has exciting mission-oriented programming!

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 10:35

Huygens has landed on Titan... Data Playback to follow.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 11:49

"A Fantastic Success... We are the first visitors to the surface of Titan."
- ESA chief at this morning's Huygens (First Science Data Recieved) Briefing

[that we know of]

"Huygens continued to send data, received here on Earth through ground stations, after Cassini had to end scheduled high-data rate reception to turn and relay science to us."

"All spacecraft housekeeping data in the stream looks normal."

I may be misinterpreting this early (more coffee on the way), but I took this to mean that the batteries lasted longer than expected, and effectively that we have more data from Huygens on the surface of Titan than we had bandwidth for.

Cassini was always due to have limited data take due to orbit planning, but the fact that Earth stations picked up the Huygens-to-Cassini carrier signal and our final limitation on new data is/was the shortage of "big ears" more than a billion miles away.

"Last spacecraft Carrier was at 1555GMT from a station in Australia... Radio telescopes around the world are being requested to try and track longer to extend the scientific doppler work and see how long Huygens survives"
- Huygens Principal Investigator Dr. Jean-Pierre Lebreton

The first "Actual Science Results" briefing won't start for a few hours as they decompress the datastream and collect enough info to feed the world's media.


Landing on other worlds is cool.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-01-14 at 14:40.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 12:05

perhaps even more impressive... of the entire scheduled high-data rate relay,
not one packet was lost from B channel (redundant A channel is not happy, yet)

damn

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-01-14 at 12:29.
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meaningless
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2005-01-14, 12:31

I am impressed that Huygens was still transmitting after Cassini dropped below Titan's horizon AND the fact that our ground stations were able to detect those continued signels! I don't know if that is still the case or not but hopefully details will follow at the next press briefing.

Landing on other planets / moons IS cool.

I cannot wait to see what images Huygens was able to snap. Show me them methane seas, damnit!

I remembered listening to NPR (maybe?) a few months ago. Someone theorized that if such seas exists on Titan, the wave action would be surreal. It would be higher than normal earth waves and move much slowly. That would be a sight to see.

I wonder if the pictures will be in color? Titan's orange skies - confirmed?
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BarracksSi
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2005-01-14, 13:23

Any aliens?



This is cool as shit, really. I'd like to see what National Geographic puts together in another month or two.

Thanks again for the updates, curiousuburb.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 15:08

First images back are from the Descent Imager... they have 350 images...
showed two from more than 10km up... below the haze looking down.

claiming to see drainage features... pics aren't posted yet, and aren't processed to clean noise either...

should get clearer later
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2005-01-14, 15:31

land and sea??


g

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Powerdoc
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2005-01-14, 16:10

According to the head admin of Huygens, decoding such image is a long task.
Nobody on earth have an idea about the appearance of the surface of Titan.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 18:29

Quote:
Originally Posted by Powerdoc
According to the head admin of Huygens, decoding such image is a long task.
Nobody on earth have an idea about the appearance of the surface of Titan.



Quote:
This raw image was returned by the ESA Huygens DISR camera after the probe descended through the atmosphere of Titan. It shows the surface of Titan with ice blocks strewn around. The size and distance of the blocks will be determined when the image is properly processed.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-14, 21:51

Total size of the effective Huygens Data Set during primary relay via Cassini: 4h32m (end by Horizon)

- beyond expected battery life/'warranty' period

Data decompression & replay scheduled for 8 replay sessions to ensure error free decode.

Preliminary analysis suggest no packet loss on Channel B, good science,
primarily atmospheric composition, charge, pressure, etc at one second inhalations on the way to the surface.

Extended carrier wave detection from Earth Radio Telescopes as bonus doppler science not finalized.

More info at the 1/15 ESA Briefing

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-01-15 at 12:32.
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-15, 12:54

ESA brings you the microphone science on the way down through Titan's atmosphere...

Sounds of Titan

Titan Winds.mp3

Radar Descent.mp3

New composite image surface pictures in a panorama



Quote:
This composite was produced from images returned yesterday, January 14, 2005, by the European Space Agency's Huygens probe during its successful descent to land on Titan. It shows a full 360-degree view around Huygens. The left-hand side, behind Huygens, shows a boundary between light and dark areas. The white streaks seen near this boundary could be ground 'fog,' as they were not immediately visible from higher altitudes.

As the probe descended, it drifted over a plateau (center of image) and was heading towards its landing site in a dark area (right). From the drift of the probe, the wind speed has been estimated at around 6-7 kilometers (about 4 miles) per hour.

These images were taken from an altitude of about 8 kilometers ( about 5 miles) with a resolution of about 20 meters (about 65 feet) per pixel. The images were taken by the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, one of two NASA instruments on the probe.
and the processed, colour version of the surface of Titan seen yesterday.



Quote:
This image was returned yesterday, January 14, 2005, by the European Space Agency's Huygens probe during its successful descent to land on Titan. This is the colored view, following processing to add reflection spectra data, and gives a better indication of the actual color of the surface.

Initially thought to be rocks or ice blocks, they are more pebble-sized. The two rock-like objects just below the middle of the image are about 15 centimeters (about 6 inches) (left) and 4 centimeters (about 1.5 inches) (center) across respectively, at a distance of about 85 centimeters (about 33 inches) from Huygens. The surface is darker than originally expected, consisting of a mixture of water and hydrocarbon ice. There is also evidence of erosion at the base of these objects, indicating possible fluvial activity.

The image was taken with the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, one of two NASA instruments on the probe.
Aside from the admission of a human error in failing to enable Cassini capture of the A data channel, it looks and sounds like a great success so far.
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Kickaha
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2005-01-15, 13:28

Did anyone else listen to the radar descent MP3 and think "OMG, it's Defender!"?
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curiousuburb
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2005-01-16, 19:59

I'm sure it's already being worked into some Eurotechno
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drewprops
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2005-01-20, 00:48

Has anyone seen the image of where the lander landed? Did you see the strange geometric features above that area? It looks like Darth Vader playing soccer!! Check this out:


Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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murbot
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2005-01-20, 18:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
Bah. That's only one frame.

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Moogs
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2005-01-24, 22:28





Holy shit. Not much grey area here (like Mars has) when talking about what caused the terrain to be formed as it is....

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2005-02-25, 13:55

Trogdor on Saturn



Quote:
The Dragon Storm
February 24, 2005
Full-Res: PIA06197


A large, bright and complex convective storm that appeared in Saturn's southern hemisphere in mid-September 2004 was the key in solving a long-standing mystery about the ringed planet.

Saturn's atmosphere and its rings are shown here in a false color composite made from Cassini images taken in near infrared light through filters that sense different amounts of methane gas. Portions of the atmosphere with a large abundance of methane above the clouds are red, indicating clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Grey indicates high clouds, and brown indicates clouds at intermediate altitudes. The rings are bright blue because there is no methane gas between the ring particles and the camera.

The complex feature with arms and secondary extensions just above and to the right of center is called the Dragon Storm. It lies in a region of the southern hemisphere referred to as "storm alley" by imaging scientists because of the high level of storm activity observed there by Cassini in the last year.

The Dragon Storm was a powerful source of radio emissions during July and September of 2004. The radio waves from the storm resemble the short bursts of static generated by lightning on Earth. Cassini detected the bursts only when the storm was rising over the horizon on the night side of the planet as seen from the spacecraft; the bursts stopped when the storm moved into sunlight. This on/off pattern repeated for many Saturn rotations over a period of several weeks, and it was the clock-like repeatability that indicated the storm and the radio bursts are related. Scientists have concluded that the Dragon Storm is a giant thunderstorm whose precipitation generates electricity as it does on Earth. The storm may be deriving its energy from Saturn's deep atmosphere.

One mystery is why the radio bursts start while the Dragon Storm is below the horizon on the night side and end when the storm is on the day side, still in full view of the Cassini spacecraft. A possible explanation is that the lightning source lies to the east of the visible cloud, perhaps because it is deeper where the currents are eastward relative to those at cloud top levels. If this were the case, the lightning source would come up over the night side horizon and would sink down below the day side horizon before the visible cloud. This would explain the timing of the visible storm relative to the radio bursts.

The Dragon Storm is of great interest for another reason. In examining images taken of Saturn's atmosphere over many months, imaging scientists found that the Dragon Storm arose in the same part of Saturn's atmosphere that had earlier produced large bright convective storms. In other words, the Dragon Storm appears to be a long-lived storm deep in the atmosphere that periodically flares up to produce dramatic bright white plumes which subside over time. One earlier sighting, in July 2004, was also associated with strong radio bursts. And another, observed in March 2004 and captured in a movie created from images of the atmosphere (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06082 and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06083) spawned three little dark oval storms that broke off from the arms of the main storm. Two of these subsequently merged with each other; the current to the north carried the third one off to the west, and Cassini lost track of it. Small dark storms like these generally get stretched out until they merge with the opposing currents to the north and south.

These little storms are the food that sustains the larger atmospheric features, including the larger ovals and the eastward and westward currents. If the little storms come from the giant thunderstorms, then together they form a food chain that harvests the energy of the deep atmosphere and helps maintain the powerful currents.

Cassini has many more chances to observe future flare-ups of the Dragon Storm, and others like it over the course of the mission. It is likely that scientists will come to solve the mystery of the radio bursts and observe storm creation and merging in the next 2 or 3 years.
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curiousuburb
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2005-03-09, 14:31

( Riddick not shown )


Quote:
Cassini's Private Eclipse - March 3, 2005
Full-Res: PIA06199

Click here for the QuickTime video.

For this movie, Cassini pointed its cameras toward Saturn's moon Dione to witness its distant sibling moon Rhea briefly pass behind in a series of 32 individual frames taken over 17 minutes. Four individual frames from the eclipse are shown at bottom.

Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is larger than Dione (1,118 kilometers, or 695 miles across), but also is farther away as seen here, which explains why the two moons appear to be roughly the same angular size.

The view shows principally the anti-Saturn side of Dione, and the Saturn-facing side of far-off Rhea.

The images in this movie were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 20, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometers (900,000 miles) from Dione and about 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Rhea. The image scale is approximately 9 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel on Dione and 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Rhea.
And new pictures of the South Polar region of Titan...



They've also added some close-up views of the Titan shots

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-03-09 at 14:42.
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curiousuburb
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2005-03-09, 14:39

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
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.
New zoomed image of the F ring shows even more detail of wake perturbations and ringlets...
and I thought the first version was impressive...



Quote:
In the Moon's Wake - March 8, 2005
Full-Res: PIA06600

Intriguing features resembling drapes and kinks are visible in this Cassini view of Saturn's thin F ring. Several distinct ringlets are present, in addition to the bright, knotted core of the ring.

The obvious structure in the ring and its strands has been caused by Prometheus, the inner F ring shepherd moon that recently swept past this region. (Prometheus is about 10 degrees ahead of the F ring material in this image). These types of features were first seen in images taken just after Cassini entered into orbit around Saturn. The gravitational interaction of Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) on the ring pulls material out the ring once every orbit (every 14.7 hours) as the moon gets close to the ring and its strands.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 19, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to polarized visible light. Resolution in the original image was 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel. The image was contrast-enhanced and magnified by a factor of two to aid visibility.
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curiousuburb
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2005-05-11, 17:12

Wavemaking Moon Discovered.


Quote:
Discovery of the Wavemaker (movie)
May 10, 2005 Full-Res: PIA06238

Cassini's celestial sleuthing has paid off with this time-lapse series of images which confirmed earlier suspicions that a small moon was orbiting within the narrow Keeler gap of Saturn's rings.

The movie sequence, which consists of 12 images taken over 16 minutes while Cassini gazed down upon the sunlit side of the A ring, shows a tiny moon orbiting in the center of the Keeler gap, churning up waves in the gap edges as it goes. The pattern of waves travels with the moon in its orbit.



The Keeler gap is located about 250 kilometers (155 miles) inside the outer edge of the A ring, which is also the outer edge of the bright main rings. The new object is about 7 kilometers across (4 miles) and reflects about 50 percent of the sunlight that falls upon it -- a brightness that is typical of particles in the nearby rings.

The new body has been provisionally named S/2005 S1.

Imaging scientists predicted the moon's presence and its orbital distance from Saturn after July 2004, when they saw a set of peculiar spiky and wispy features in the Keeler gap's outer edge. The similarities of the Keeler gap features to those noted in Saturn's F ring and the Encke gap led the scientists to conclude that a small body, a few kilometers across, was lurking in the center of the Keeler gap, awaiting discovery.

Also included here is a view of the same scene created by combining six individual, unmagnified frames used in the movie sequence. This digital composite view improves the overall resolution of the scene compared to that available in any of the single images.

The images in this movie sequence were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 1, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (708,000 miles) from Saturn. Resolution in the original image was 8 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel. The images in the movie sequence have been magnified in (the vertical direction only) by a factor of two to aid visibility of features caused within the gap by the moonlet.
So a newly discovered moon was predicted due to perturbations of the rings in its wake.
Confirmed!1!
Now Shipping!

In other moon news, Phoebe has now been confirmed as an interloper in the Saturn system from Pluto's neighbourhood. Those Kuiper belt kids can be cold bastards.
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Moogs
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2005-05-11, 18:50

It's official: this thread still rules.
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curiousuburb
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2005-05-25, 19:10

Scientists Baffled by Bright Spot on Titan



Quote:
Saturn's moon Titan shows an unusual bright spot that has scientists mystified. The spot, approximately the size and shape of West Virginia, is just southeast of the bright region called Xanadu and is visible to multiple instruments on the Cassini spacecraft.

The 483-kilometer-wide (300-mile) region may be a "hot" spot -- an area possibly warmed by a recent asteroid impact or by a mixture of water ice and ammonia from a warm interior, oozing out of an ice volcano onto colder surrounding terrain. Other possibilities for the unusual bright spot include landscape features holding clouds in place or unusual materials on the surface.

"At first glance, I thought the feature looked strange, almost out of place," said Dr. Robert H. Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer and professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson. "After thinking a bit, I speculated that it was a hot spot. In retrospect, that might not be the best hypothesis. But the spot is no less intriguing."

The Cassini spacecraft flew by Titan on March 31 and April 16. Its visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, using the longest, reddest wavelengths that the spectrometer sees, observed the spot, the brightest area ever observed on Titan.

Cassini's imaging cameras saw a bright, 550-kilometer-wide (345-mile) semi-circle at visible wavelengths at this same location on Cassini's December 2004 and February 2005 Titan flybys. "It seems clear that both instruments are detecting the same basic feature on or controlled by Titan's surface," said Dr. Alfred S. McEwen, Cassini imaging team scientist, also of the University of Arizona. "This bright patch may be due to an impact event, landslide, cryovolcanism or atmospheric processes. Its distinct color and brightness suggest that it may have formed relatively recently."

... continues ...
Cool. Except for that hot spot.
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