Enceladus Plus

Enceladus in "Saturnshine" by Cassini.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Enceladus in “Saturnshine” by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Here’s a picture of Enceladus from Cassini. The image was taken from a distance of 832,000 km (517,000 miles). The Sun and the camera are on opposite sides of the moon. The light provided to be able to see the moon and the now famous jets of water is “Saturnshine”, light reflected off Saturn.

Plus this:

You might have seen the news of Curiosity finding water on Mars. The soil sample contained two percent water. This is the first direct measurement as far as I know. There have been estimates of soil water detected by the HEND instrument on the Mars Odyssey. I managed to find the reference. Further findings will be very interesting, I’d look in one of the “gullies”, then again I’d be doing all sorts of things that might be fun for me but not for the mission.

Two percent is quite a lot I would think considering. Seems like there are a few variables too, like soil particle size. I’m assuming, and I say that because I don’t know nor have I been able to find out for sure, is this hygroscopic water (i.e. beyond capillary water)? I would think it would sublimate when exposed, continuing to look at that. Here’s the story. If anybody knows leave a comment.

Cygnus :

There will be an attempt a docking tomorrow morning (Sunday, 29 Sept.). Coverage starts at 08:30 UTC (04:30 EDT). I’ll put a video link here before hand.

Capture was successful.  Nice and smooth as far as I could see.   I noted about a four second delay between the streamed version and the television.  Had a little bit of a time getting the right feed and then my computer decided to spaz out for a few minutes.  Not a disease or anything but ever since a couple updates ago, we seem to have these little “fits”.  LOL.

Cygnus is now attached!

Space X

There will be yet another launch tomorrow too. Space X is scheduled to launch the Falcon 9 with Canadian research satellite (and the Canadian Space Agency) and MDA Corp.

The launch window opens at 16:00 UTC. I’ll have more on that launch tomorrow morning.

Mini-jet in Saturn’s Ring

Mini-jet in Saturn F ring, click for a zoomed in version.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Mini-jet in Saturn F ring, click for a zoomed in version. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Here’s a Cassini image of a “mini-jet” in the F ring of Saturn. The mini-jets are thought to be caused by low-speed collisions of material in the F ring and this causes dusty material from the ring.

The mini-jets are sometimes called exotic trails (actually what I’ve always called them), to learn more about them have a look here.

This image is from the “dark side” of the rings, that is below the ring plane by about 48 degrees from a distance of about 1.4 million km (841,000 miles) on June 20, 2013.

Here’s a link to the original image at the Cassini page at JPL.

See the newly launched Cygnus Spacecraft in flight:

Do you want to see the Cygnus spacecraft in flight? You can go to Heaven’s Above PLUS(!) you can see if you will be able to observe the Juno spacecraft flyby of Earth on its way to Jupiter and of course the ISS sightings and other spacecraft.

For those who downloaded Stellarium from a few posts back you can set that up for the appropriate time and really narrow down where to look. I’ve been doing that lately with the morning passes of the ISS and it works very well.

BTW: You will need to configure Heaven’s Above. It’s easy and safe, I’ve been registered for nearly 10 years and NEVER got any unwanted email, hmmm, to be honest no email at all. So don’t worry about such things.

Saturn’s Rings

Cassini's look at Saturn and  an arc of the rings. Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini’s look at Saturn and an arc of the rings. Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

It seems like its been a while since I put a Cassini image up and this one is very nice. The image was taken from a distance of 1.1 million km (657,000 miles) using the wide-angle camera in the near-infrared light.

It almost seem like the rings have a dish shape to them.

See the full image and caption at the JPL Photojournal page Arc Across the Heavens.

TOMORROW:

Tomorrow there is a scheduled launch of the Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission to the ISS.

The launch was delayed due to weather concerns holding up the roll-out and a technical communications issue Friday. A look at the expected weather conditions on Wednesday shows no concerns, nice and sunny with temperatures around 22 C (72 F).

Launch is set for 14:50 to 15:05 UTC / 10:50 to 11:05 EDT.

We will have more on the launch and a link to the live shot tomorrow morning. Hope you can make it!

Titan’s Collar

titancollar

A ‘collar’ on Titan. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

I can remember watching these images come in.  I was watching on slow scan television “Live” via ham radio and I believe Goddard was the source of the transmission.  The transmissions were terribly exciting.  I even have the same scan converter.  Fun times.

From NASA:

Titan’s polar collar — previously seen by Voyager 2 and the Hubble Space Telescope — has now been observed by the Cassini spacecraft, seen here in ultraviolet light. The collar is believed to be seasonal in nature. Researchers are still studying its cause and evolution.
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. North on Titan is up and rotated 32 degrees to the right. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 13, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of ultraviolet light centered at 338 nanometers.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 4 degrees. Image scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) per pixel.

Here is Titan from 2.3 million km (1.4 million miles) by the Voyager 2 spacecraft on 23 August 1981. Image: NASA

Mimas and Pandora

A nice Cassini view of the moons Mimas and Pandora across the rings of Saturn. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A nice Cassini view of the moons Mimas and Pandora across the rings of Saturn. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft took this image of the two moon Mimas and Pandora with the rings of Saturn in the foreground.

Mimas is the larger of the two and the crater Herschel is plainly visible. If you think Herschel is large you would be right, Mimas is 396 km (246 miles) across and Hershel spans 130 km (81 miles) nearly 33 percent, the crater is also about 10 km (6 miles) deep.

Mimas has another distinction: as far as I know and probably owing to its icy nature, Mimas is the smallest object known to be in hydrostatic equlibrium. Briefly stated another way it is the smallest object able to use its own gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape. A note here, the composition means a lot becuase the largest object known NOT to be in hydrostatic equlibrium is the sort of oblong asteroid Pallas at 532 km, but keep in mind it is made of rock to a large degree.

The smaller moon in the picture is Pandora, which really does look potato shaped when paired with Mimas. Pandora is roughly 114 km x 84 km x 62 km (71 miles x 52 miles x 39 miles).

Source: Two Moons Passing in the Night

Saturn Power

Cassini shows Saturn is controlling the spray from the moon Enceladus.  Click to see the moon pictures enlarged.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Cornell/SSI

Cassini shows Saturn is controlling the spray from the moon Enceladus. Click to see the moon pictures enlarged. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Cornell/SSI

Oddly enough I was refreshing my memory about tidal action between solar system bodies a few weeks ago so this is very timely.

After seeing this Cassini news it occurs to me in the case of Enceladus, what we see is a pump, a really-really big pump. How cool is that!

I’ll let the Cassini press release explain:

This set of images from NASA’s Cassini mission shows how the gravitational pull of Saturn affects the amount of spray coming from jets at the active moon Enceladus. Enceladus has the most spray when it is farthest away from Saturn in its orbit (inset image on the left) and the least spray when it is closest to Saturn (inset image on the right).

Water ice and organic particles gush out of fissures known as “tiger stripes” at Enceladus’ south pole. Scientists think the fissures are squeezed shut when the moon is feeling the greatest force of Saturn’s gravity. They theorize the reduction of that gravity allows the fissures to open and release the spray. Enceladus’ orbit is slightly closer to Saturn on one side than the other. A simplified version of that orbit is shown as a white oval.

Continue reading

Cassini Looks Homeward

Earth as seen by the Cassini spacecraft.  Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Earth as seen by the Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

THAT’S US!

I am impressed!! Cassini returned a great picture and the mission team did a fabulous job processing the image. I mean look at it, even from 898 million miles the Earth can be easily recognized.

You know you want a desktop of this, I have mine already and it looks great.

The moon can be seen in this image but not easily or at least for me. Read the story and see all the larger versions including a Earth moon image and get your desktop version.

One Kilometer Down and More

The road ahead for Curiosity.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The road ahead for Curiosity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover Curiosity just passed the one kilometer driving mark, that’s 0.62 miles for us metrically challanged Americans.

This image was obtained with the left front Hazard-Avoidance Camera or Hazcam just after the odometer clicked over. The date this all transpired was July 16, 2013.

The direction you are looking at is southwest, generally in the direction of an area if interest and destination of Mount Sharp about 8 km distant (~5 miles). Hope they can get pictures of some of those rocks, I’m “curious” about what they are, it appears there appears to be a couple different varieties there. I wish I knew more about geologly.

I will give more of an update this weekend. I wanted to put this up because I just switched my desktop background. If you would like one go on over to the webpage with the image to download a version for yourself.

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Here’s looking at you!

Now there is a couple of other things going on we have TWO space probes about to take pictures of good old Earth.

One is the Cassini, if you lean to the geeky side like I do, you will want to run outside and wave between 5:27 and 5:42 pm EDT / 21:27 and 21:42 UTC. Be sure to be looking at the camera and smile. Just go out face due south if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, I think the opposite in you are in the Southen Hemisphere. Ok once you face South, you could take a slight turn to the East and SMILE!! LOL. Hey I’m going to do it.

The Messenger spacecraft around Mercury is also going to be taking a picture of us on July 19 and 20. The times of these images will be: 7:49 a.m., 8:38 a.m. and 9:41 a.m. EDT, or 11:49, 12:38, and 13:41 UTC. We should be able to see Europe, Middle East and Central Asia as these will be illuminated in the images.

Interesting thing about the MESSENGER imaging is researchers are actually looking for possible un-resolved satellites around the planet. Wouldn’t that be something to find and it’s NOT out of the question!!

Janus

The tiny moon Janus.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The tiny moon Janus. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The tiny Saturn moon Janus is featured on the Cassini website. Janus is only 111 miles/179 km across so it lacks the gravitation to form itself into a round moon, so it appears somewhat lumpy as NASA puts it. LOL.

This image was taken from a distance of 780,000 miles / 1.3 million km and has an image scale of 5 miles / 7 km per pixel.

You can see the original image here and an earlier NASA offering here from much closer only 21,000 miles / 33,000 km.

The Crescent of Dione

The Saturn moon Dione.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Saturn moon Dione. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Here is a Cassini image of the Saturn moon Dione. Dione is 698 miles (1,123 km) across making it the fourth largest moon.

We get to see the crescent formed as the moon slowly rotates (Dione has a 66 hour rotation) and the angle of the Cassini camera which in this case was from the anti-Staturn side.