Critical Section


spaced out

Monday,  01/21/08  01:05 AM

Okay, time to get spaced out!

I have accumulated a number of juicy links about one of my favorite subjects - space, and especially planetary exploration - and here they are, for your clicking pleasure...

  • Hubble's Largest Galaxy Portrait Offers a New High-Definition View.  Wow.  The largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy that has ever been released; it is composed of 51 individual Hubble exposures, in addition to elements from images from ground-based photos. The final composite image measures 16,000 by 12,000 pixels.  And is beautiful, too...
  • NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus.  The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.
  • Cassini's View of Jupiter's South Pole.   Cassini took many photographs of Jupiter on the way to Saturn, including this unusual montage of its southern pole. This photograph was made up of 36 separate images, stitched together on computer.
  • Saturn's moon 'best bet for life'.  Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may be the best place to look for life elsewhere in the Solar System.  That is the view of a senior scientist working on the Cassini spacecraft, which has been studying Saturn and its moons for nearly two years.
  • Titan Descent Data Movie with Bells and Whistles.  This movie, built with data collected during the European Space Agency's Huygens probe on Jan. 14, 2005, shows the operation of the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer camera during its descent and after touchdown. The camera was funded by NASA.
  • Lakes on Titan!  The Cassini spacecraft, using its radar system, has discovered very strong evidence for hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. Dark patches, which resemble terrestrial lakes, seem to be sprinkled all over the high latitudes surrounding Titan's north pole.
  • Marooned Mars rover returns stunning panorama.  The most detailed panoramic view ever obtained on Mars has been returned by NASA's Spirit rover in time to mark its 1000th Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet.  A total of 1449 individual images representing 500 megabytes of raw data were acquired for the view, called the McMurdo panorama.
  • Image archive: the top 100 photographs taken by the Hubble space telescope.  Can you choose a favorite?  Mine would have to be the glowing eye of NGC6751.  Absolutely stunning.  And to think how large it is!
  • Mountain range spotted on Titan.  The Cassini spacecraft has spied the tallest mountains yet seen on Titan, Saturn's major moon.  The range is about 150km long (93 miles), 30km (19 miles) wide and about 1.5km (nearly a mile) high.
  • Cassini Finds Lakes On Titan's Arctic Region.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found lakes on Saturn's moon Titan.  The lakes are most likely the source of hydrocarbon smog in the frigid moon's atmosphere.  Finding the source of the complex soup of hydrocarbons in Titan's atmosphere has been a major goal for the Cassini mission and is a significant accomplishment.
  • Here's a gallery of the best images taken by Cassini of Saturn and its moons.  Can you choose a favorite?  It isn't easy, but I rather like the movie of Hyperion tumbling toward Cassini.  Totally looks like something from Star Wars.  Can you imaging actually looking out the window and seeing that?  I can...
  • Can Titan be our future home?  Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter’s Ganymede.  Titan is also the only moon in the soar system with a dense atmosphere that is even denser than that at Earth.  Studies have demonstrated that the most important and advantageous target in the solar system for colonization is Titan.  Yes!
  • Pluto status suffers another blow.  Not only has it been demoted from planet to "dwarf planet", research now shows that it cannot even lay claim to being the biggest of these.  A study has confirmed that the dwarf planet Eris - whose discovery prompted Pluto's relegation from planet to dwarf - outranks it in mass.  So be it.
  • Here's more information about Hyperion, including some awesome high-resolution pictures.  New images of Hyperion taken by the Cassini Spacecraft on September 26, 2005 will forever change our understanding of this new world. These pictures show a surface dotted with craters and modified by some process, not yet understood, to create a strange, "spongy" appearance, unlike the surface of any other Saturn moon.
  • Though colder than Earth, Titan is tropical in nature.  If space travelers ever visit Saturn’s largest moon, they will find a tropical world where temperatures plunge to minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit, methane rains from the sky and dunes of ice or tar cover the planet’s most arid regions. These conditions reflect a cold mirror image of Earth’s tropical and subtropical climates, according to scientists.

You're welcome!

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