Solar System Geek – Saturn’s north pole has a hexagon!

Leave a comment

Saturn’s north pole. Today. Taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

I have no idea why Saturn’s north pole has a hexagon.  It’s huge!

A close up.

wow

Images from the Planetary Society’s web page.

Mars isn’t the only place we’ve landed out there!

Leave a comment

The surface of Titan, a satellite of Saturn

Space Cadet JimmieJoe is taking me to task right now.  This is a big thing, and I missed it!

On January 14, 2005, NASA and ESA landed a probe on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn!

I don’t recall being aware of this, at all.  I don’t even know if I’ve seen this picture before, but if I have, I’m fairly certain I would think it was of Mars.  Instead, this is the surface of a satellite orbiting a planet 794 million miles away from us (at it’s closest approach).

I’m thinking, right now, of all the hoopla surrounding the recent landing of the Curiosity on Mars, and marveling that there was not something similar back in 2005.  Yes, the Huygens probe, part of the Cassini mission, only parachuted to the “ground”, and Curiosity did the whole ‘heat shield – parachute – retro rocket – sky crane’ deal, but still…

I missed it!  (hanging head in shame, avoiding the glare of 12 year old Space Cadet JimmieJoe)

Mars, and Titan.  But did you know, they’re not the only two places we’ve set down on.

We’ve landed on another planet, too.

More

Space Geek – Moons, Rings of Saturn

Leave a comment

From the space probe Cassini, in orbit around Saturn:

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait says:

The moon at the top is Rhea, which is about 1500 km (950 miles) across. We’re looking past its south pole here. The moon farther away is Dione, which is 1100 km (700 miles) in size. And since Cassini was very nearly in the plane of Saturn’s equator, the rings are nearly edge-on. Note that Dione is on the other side of the rings as seen by Cassini, so the bottom of the moon is obscured by the rings. We can’t see Saturn itself, but it’s off to the left in this shot.

Rhea is only a little bigger than Dione, but is a lot closer in this shot: 61,000 km versus 924,000 for Dione! That’s why Dione looks so much smaller. As seen by Cassini in this shot, it’s actually more than twice as far as our Moon is from the Earth. Both moons are composed of mostly water ice, with some rock. Both have been heavily battered by impacts, as you can see.

Friday Geek – Enceladus on full afterburner

Leave a comment

A moon of Saturn is trying to escape!  (OK, not really.  Here’s the real scoop)

%d bloggers like this: