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NASA Space Science

New Close-Ups of Saturn's Geyser Moon 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the really-old-really-faithful dept.
sighted writes "Over the weekend, the robotic spacecraft Cassini buzzed Saturn's moon Enceladus and its intriguing geysers. Cassini flew just 62 miles above the moon's surface — and right through its jets of water vapor and ice — both capturing pictures and 'tasting' the geyser plumes. Cassini makes another pass by Enceladus later this month. Even more pictures can be seen in the stream of raw images sent by the probe."
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New Close-Ups of Saturn's Geyser Moon

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  • by condition-label-red (657497) on Monday October 03, 2011 @04:22PM (#37593134) Homepage
    Wow! That is almost exactly 100km!
    • by EdIII (1114411)

      LOL.

      No, it is 62 miles.

      Pretty sure NASA learned its lesson about having consistent units of measurement throughout the entire software operating on their hardware in space.

      However, if I remember correctly, Cassini was launched before the Mars Climate Orbiter. So who knows if there is conversion software changing between miles and kilometers.

      At this point though, it hardly matters. Seems like we have all but closed up the space program anyways. Just monitoring and finishing up, and waiting for private cor

      • by jd (1658)

        Nah, no private corps. Not with the ESA and Russian space industries eager for business, and Japan, India and a few other smaller players quite capable of launching anything into orbit around the Earth or the moon.

      • It doesn't look like US is closing the space program. Data collection with remote unmanned vehicles are still returning useful information. The US might have decommissioned the Space Shuttle but the X-37 program has already built, tested, and possibly even been used for classified missions. We are still committed to participating in the space station and are deploying the most powerful telescope built today in orbit. Until we develop the technology to make manned inter-system exploration viable we are pre
        • by EdIII (1114411)

          I dunno.

          There was a congressional hearing recently where one of the original astronauts to land on the Moon complained about what we are doing, and I think he was spot on.

          I am bitter about it for sure, but not just about NASA. I am bitter and saddened about our entire approach and dedication to arts and science in general.

          We can bail out Wall Street because a bunch of truly despicable assholes screwed up with other people's money due to shortsightedness and greed, but we cannot spend any money on the thing

          • "I guess to be more specific, America has all but closed up shop. We are basically being provided palliative care and waiting to die." This pessimistic view is not really warranted if you look at the actual history of both the US and the world at large. Everything is cyclical and true change takes longer than the average election cycle. The problems today are nothing new. Income disparity was much larger in the 1800's and early 1900's than it is today. Today's drug war stupidity doesn't hold a candle to th
  • All these nutters think the moon landings were faked. But it seems that not a one of them so much as adjusts their tinfoil hat when we hear about the latest accomplishment from some probe. Are all you "The shadows are in the wrong place!!" types only up for disproving the really sexy missions??!?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You couldn't ignore the moon landings, they were as big a deal as the World Series - hell, all three networks pre-empted programming for them. This other stuff is just crazies out in California - you know, they got another group up in Big Sur that thinks they're travelling by Astral Projection too!

      • You couldn't ignore the moon landings, they were as big a deal as the World Series - hell, all three networks pre-empted programming for them. This other stuff is just crazies out in California - you know, they got another group up in Big Sur that thinks they're travelling by Astral Projection too!

        Yeah, and a bunch of bozos in Washington DC who think they understand economics.

        Crazy talk.

    • by vlm (69642)

      space probes: a stream of bits is present in a computer file... easy to fake, so they assume every knows they're fakes.

      moon landings: Supposedly astronauts and rocks came back ... hard to fake, therefore they have to preach to us to reveal to us the gospel of the faked moon landings.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      What changed their mind was Buzz Aldrin [youtube.com].

    • by jovius (974690)

      No need to state the obvious.

    • by mj1856 (589031)
      My WIFE has this problem. We argue about it all the time. She thinks that all the probes are real, but we've just never sent real people outside our own orbit. It's really hard to counter-act this kind of conspiracy, because anything you might see as proof, they can just say that robots did it. Retro-reflectors? Robots did it. Moon rocks? Robots brought them back. Until she can look in a telescope with her own eyes and see a guy standing there waiving back at her, she'll never believe it happened. Ev
      • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday October 03, 2011 @05:36PM (#37593844)

        I wonder how good a telescope we would need to actually see a human being on the surface of the moon anyway?

        It would have to be very good. For example, the Hubble space telescope couldn't do it. Not even close. (Despite the fact that it can image galaxies that are billions of light-years away.)

        Let's say that seeing an astronaut convincingly requires a resolution of ~5 cm (at that resolution, their hand would be a bit of a blob, but at least you'd be able to tell that it was a person and not a rover...). Let's assume we're using the violet-end of the visible spectrum (wavelength lambda ~ 400 nm). Using the resolution equation [wikipedia.org]:
        sin(theta) = 1.22 * lambda/D

        theta is the angular difference we're interested in, D is the size of the aperture/optical system, the 1.22 factor can vary a bit between optical schemes but is close enough for our purposes. The distance to the moon is 384,000 km [wikipedia.org], so the angle theta is [google.com] arctan(5 cm/384000 km) = 7.5E-9 degrees. So [google.com]:
        D = (1.22 * 400 nm)/( sin(7.5E-9 degrees) ) = 3.7 km

        So, we would need an optical telescope with an aperture/mirror that is 3.7 km in diameter. Needless to say, this is quite a bit bigger than any telescope that exists today (the best is about 12 m [wikipedia.org]). If you want to be able to accurately see the astronaut's eyes, to confirm that he's really not a robot, then the telescope would have to be even bigger (like 40 km in diameter).

        • by Ruie (30480)

          So, we would need an optical telescope with an aperture/mirror that is 3.7 km in diameter. Needless to say, this is quite a bit bigger than any telescope that exists today (the best is about 12 m [wikipedia.org]). If you want to be able to accurately see the astronaut's eyes, to confirm that he's really not a robot, then the telescope would have to be even bigger (like 40 km in diameter).

          This is a large number but not too large - two telescopes spaced apart at 3.7km and connected to form an interferometer [wikipedia.org]

        • by khallow (566160)
          I believe Kech 1 and 2 have in combination an effective optical length of 100m and there's a similar interferometer either in development or operation in South America which supposedly has a similar effective aperture.
      • by Mattsson (105422)

        Even then, how could she be sure that it isn't a humanoid robot stuck in a spacesuit waving back, or a video projected onto the surface of the moon from hidden projectors. =-P

        Same problem as when discussing religion and semi-religious stuff like "intelligent design"-crap with people who actually believes in it.

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      There are also people like me who truly just don't care one way or the other.

      Don't get me wrong. I think the whole universe is beautiful, humbling, and awesome. I just leave the exploration to people who have passion for it.

      It hardly matters if the data is being falsified to cover up alien interactions. At the end of the day, I still have to deal with the realities of life on the ground, and whatever information I obtain about the truth will never give me an edge to fight the people that are apparently d

      • by tragedy (27079)

        It seems to me that the effort to fake the moon landings than it would take to actually land men on the moon. That spacecraft were launched, orbited the moon, then came back to earth seems pretty incontrovertible. Too many independent observers to deny that. The only leg the moon landing conspiracy people seem to have to stand on is the idea that there were no people on the Apollo spacecraft and that landers did not descend to the surface and return. The video footage shot by the Apollo astronauts should pu

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          I am not disagreeing with you about how much evidence there is that we went, or about how hard it would have been to fake it.

          Just pointing out that the motivations to do so are absolutely plausible and that the argument itself is a waste of time. It does not actually matter whether we did or did not go to the moon.

          The goals were achieved, regardless of the means. That is the real point I am trying to make, which is that the argument itself is pointless.

          It's like arguing about who killed JFK. Let's say

          • by tragedy (27079)

            Fair enough. There was a motive. There were no means or opportunity, however. And there's no credible body of evidence that any fraud took place, either. In the big picture, I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I just find it frightening how many of these people there are. If it were just one or two drooling idiots licking the walls in a mental health facility somewhere I could understand. Apparently it's actually something like 6% of the people in the US. It's just perplexing too. The credulousness requ

            • by EdIII (1114411)

              Apparently it's actually something like 6% of the people in the US. It's just perplexing too. The credulousness required to believe most of the hoaxers theories is incredible.

              Try to look at it another way.

              If you were not that sophisticated and had average (or below average) intelligence and it was told, or proven, time and time and time again that all the "big", "powerful", and "smart" people, governments, and corporations were lying to you... how much of a leap is it to conclude that they would be lying about somebody/something else?

              You mention credibility. Quite frankly, there is not a whole lot of it left in governments, corporations, and other organizations now.

              In a way, th

              • by tragedy (27079)

                Sadly, I have to agree with you pretty much 100% on everything there (not sad that we agree, just sad what we agree about). Let's keep our fingers crossed for education.

        • 2001: A Space Odessey came out in 1968 - roughly the same time period as Apollo 11-17 (remember you have to fake them all). It represented the state of the art in special effects. It is no where near as visually arresting as the real on board and on-moon shots. Perhaps in 2011 James Cameron could come close to being visually and physically perfect. In 1968? No way.

          Yes, NASA had lots of computers. IBM 360's and 370's with frigging punch cards (I wuz there). The MacPro that I'm typing on now wipes the

        • The only movie that springs to mind that had realistic zero-G effects was Apollo 13 and they went to great lengths to get those. They flew on the "vomit comet" and filmed in 23 second increments. (See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112384/trivia )

      • by khallow (566160)
        The thing is, faking the moon landings runs into the problem that the truth will come out rather quickly. You can't keep a secret that big with that many people involved. Then your big propaganda coup massively backfires on you. And the Soviets would figure out who to bribe to get that information out in as embarrassing a fashion as possible.

        For me, the real annoyance here are the people who assume that everyone else will feel as they do. For example, I frequently see complaints that NASA isn't populariz
        • That's a bit of a false dichotomy that misses the point anyway. Industrial pumps, as you say, are useful in an of themselves even though the vast majority of the planet couldn't tell the difference between a centrifugal and a diaphragm pump. It is not so clear what the economic advantage of space exploration actually is.

          There ARE other valid endeavors besides making money. Art, Religion, Philosophy, Science - all those things that actually differentiate us from, say, a Myna bird. Economics, in fact, is

          • by khallow (566160)

            It is not so clear what the economic advantage of space exploration actually is.

            Well, we know it's tangible and significant. We have a lot of commercial and government applications up to geosynchronous orbit. That's current economic advantage. We know there are a variety of substances in space such as precious and platinum group metals that have significant value on Earth. We know people like to travel and they would spend some amount of money to see stuff in space. We can harvest solar energy in space and beam it to places on the Earth.

            The point here is not that these activities ar

        • The thing is, faking the moon landings runs into the problem that the truth will come out rather quickly. You can't keep a secret that big with that many people involved. Then your big propaganda coup massively backfires on you. And the Soviets would figure out who to bribe to get that information out in as embarrassing a fashion as possible.

          Ah, but the conspiracy is so competent that they're able to hide all of the evidence from other scientists, competing nations, press (both at the time and in the future

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          Oh, look I don't think the moon landings were faked. As I said to other posters, I think the motivations to do so were there, but that ultimately it does not matter what happened. I don't think it would change where we are today. I think the argument itself is just silly and not productive at this point.

          Not everybody feels the same way about space. Personally, I think the military budget needs to be trimmed by 75%. It is just one big bailout and continual money pump for the Military-Industrial Complex

          • by khallow (566160)

            For the record, my position is that we start pumping money as fast as we can directly into education, infrastructure, arts, and science. Do it in the right way too, not just blow the money on somebody's uncle with a lucrative contract where we overpay and get very little back.

            I'm leery of your recommendation because I think we've already pushed these pretty far, in the US and elsewhere in the developed world. In the US, more than a third have a college degree. My guess is a similar number barely get by. So there doesn't seem to me a lot of room for improvement there, until K-12 is reformed so that a high school diploma means something again.

            Similarly, we've built a lot of infrastructure. Much of that has been of the enrichment of somebody's uncle type. And the space-related s

            • by EdIII (1114411)

              I'm leery of your recommendation because I think we've already pushed these pretty far, in the US and elsewhere in the developed world. In the US, more than a third have a college degree. My guess is a similar number barely get by. So there doesn't seem to me a lot of room for improvement there, until K-12 is reformed so that a high school diploma means something again.

              Educational reform is desperately needed. A high school diploma is meaningless when the standards required to get it have been continually lowered so that quotas can be met. By that same logic, a college degree means less now too, as well as many certifications. I looked into a MS certification that my friend took years ago and they did not even teach any command line tools at all. Most of them find out that it pretty worthless and they will learn most of what they need hands on.

              More money needs to be p

              • by khallow (566160)

                Nothing lasts forever. This you happen to be dead wrong on. The US spends 50% less GDP on infrastructure than any other developed country. Assessments of our infrastructure are alarming and shocking to say the least. We need a major and immediate country wide overhaul of our entire infrastructure. Especially, the bridges. Just look in the news about the recent catastrophic bridge failures where over a hundred people have died.

                I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware that spending on infrastructure in the current US political environment almost invariably means spending on new infrastructure, not maintaining the old. That's why there's such a big problem in the first place. More than adequate funds are spent on bridges, they just get spent on building new ones rather than keeping the old ones from falling apart.

      • To your point about geopolitics: ignoring all the other evidence, the mere fact that the Soviet Union (you know, the evil communists and the other country trying to land man on the moon first) did not immediately denounce the landings (choose from SIX of them, over 3 years) with "It's a FAAAAAAAAAKE!", should be more than enough evidence that the manned moon landings were real.

        The nutters might then say "Well, the US and Soviets were obviously in cahoots then!" At that point it, it should be obvious to anyo

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          Once again, my real points were that the argument itself is pointless. The only leg they have to stand on was the geopolitical stance. Now the Soviets had some risk by saying it was fake, because everybody would say, "of course you would say that". So I cannot say that alone is evidence that it was real.

          The real compelling evidence is just how much money was spent and the fact there was an actual launch. I find it far more likely it actually happened.

          Even if there was a grand conspiracy, who cares? You

    • by 19061969 (939279)
      Of course they are only up for disproving 'sexy' missions! It's only the *really* cool stuff that sells books / gets the public to give them attention etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This so-called "geyser-moon stream of raw images" sounds suspiciously like a goatse link.

  • Fly through it enough time and you'll crash for sure. That's not exactly hard vacuum.
    • by jd (1658)

      Travel fast enough in deep space and you'll find that that's not hard vaccuum either. (The entire premise of the Bussard ramjet relies on that. The problem is, the momentum from everything non-hydrogen in space would make such an engine almost totally useless.)

  • Am I the only one (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Monday October 03, 2011 @04:30PM (#37593214)
    I think living on the moon of one of these gas giants would scare the hell out of me, just for the fact that you look up and pretty much all you would see is Saturn.
  • You would think this should be a Japanese mission.

  • ... I thought I was browsing RedTube there for a moment.

  • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Monday October 03, 2011 @05:48PM (#37593980)
    the phrase (from TFA) "jets emanating from the moon's south polar region" made me giggle.
  • In this series of shots it looks like Cassini is passing in front of some bright headlights, apparently out of nowhere, or is it just me? http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/?start=4&storedQ=2387927 [nasa.gov]

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