David Thompson
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October 20, 2009

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sk60

Awesome. Long live Cassini.

David

I also like this shot of Prometheus disturbing Saturn’s F ring. It almost looks like soft caramel.

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/10/saturn_at_equinox.html#photo4

And, hey, an animation…

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/10/saturn_at_equinox.html#photo21

Mr Eugenides

Beautiful. All that, and lovely dresses as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Cassini

David

I see I’ll have to fix the lock on that liquor cabinet.

AntiCitizenOne

Nonsense, it's just how Evil Inc stores sound files.

Jason Bontrager

Those pictures are amazing, and they make me long for the day when we can get out there and build WorldHouses around all those moons: http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/484746e824a3a

...someday.

David Gillies

The fact that Saturn is in equinox is why we're getting these amazing pictures: sunlight is edge-on to the rings. But when Cassini was launched no-one would have bet that its mission could have been extended until now. It's been an absolute treasure-trove, along with the Huygens probe into Titan's atmosphere. There are times when I look back at my childhood dream of working at Caltech or the JPL and really wish I'd given it a shot.

Simen Thoresen

Beautiful pictures, David.

I wonder if the Cassini-protesters still are miffed about the probe?

I think I remember my local newspapers resurrecting the issue when Cassine was performing it's slingshot maneuver and approached Earth again, a year or two after it's launch.

So - when will we see these things propelled by ion-engines powered from fusion-reactors?

-S

Jason Bontrager

Simen, if Polywell ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell ) works out we could have fusion-powered space craft within 20 years. We should know in a year or two (much better than the standard "fusion is just 10/20/30 years away" that's been the rule for the past 50 years).

David

Or we could just harness the power of elephants. As a fuel source, I mean.

Wm T Sherman

No need for fusion. Ion engines can be powered by radioisotope generators or nuclear fission.

Solar would also work even for outer planets where the Sun is dim - the acceleration could be acomplished when the probe is closer to the Sun.

It's funny how snagging orbital momentum from planets to accelerate spacecraft had little mention in popular culture before it was actually done.

Planets actually lose momentum as the space probe gains momentum. I read that the figure was something like, the Earth fell closer to the Sun by the diamter of a proton during the Cassini fly-by.

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