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Space Science

Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion Imminent 205

Anonymous Explorer writes "Fresh off of its fly-by with the Saturnian satellite Phoebe, the Cassini-Huygens craft is set for Saturn Orbit Insertion on June 30, 2004. Cassini-Huygens has a planned four year mission ahead for Saturn and its many moons. With 450 watts of power for the electronics, this mission has plenty enough horses to run the stretch with plenty-o-pep to spare. Thanks to all that power, and the plethora of electronics on Cassini and the Huygens probe, we can now hear sounds from Saturn. Pretty cool stuff! Festivities are scheduled to begin on June 29th with a broadcast of Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion Press Conference on Nasa TV. SOI [PDF link] will occur after Cassini fires its main engine for 96 minutes, in order to slow down and be grabbed by the pull of Saturn. As always we extend an invitation to everyone to join #cassini on and help us celebrate this historic mission."
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Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion Imminent

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  • Airborne plutonium dust is nothing to sniff at. Plutonium is harmless as a solid, but in dust form it's very toxic. Of course, so are the vapors from the rocket's propellent tanks, just about every combusted plastic and rubber compound on the spacecraft, and all the vaporized metal.

    Yes, the greenies were making a mountain out of a molehill. Nuclear powered satellites have been launched for years, and the reactors are specifically designed to survive the destruction of the spacecraft.

    The problem is that we live in a world that is only willing to offer 30 seconds of attention about any subject at a time.

  • The far left bases their decisions and opinions on just as much "science" as the far right does. To the far left, nature and humanity is god. To the far right, God is god.

    Take your pick.
  • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@ e t o y> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:52AM (#9560820) Homepage Journal
    Solar power doesn't provide a lot of energy in deep space. The sun out that far look like a really bright star. That why Cassini needed a nuclear reactor.
  • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:54AM (#9560850) Homepage Journal
    450 may not sound like a lot, until you have to generate it for yourself years on end.

    Your little computer is a lot bigger if you include the size of the Power Station it is attached to through a long peice of wire.

    Someone should calculate how the amount of coal or oil that would be needed to provide power for Cassini if it weren't nuclear. Or the size of solar cells needed at that distance from the sun (and their wieight).

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:42PM (#9561423)
    And, you forgot the weight of they oxygen you'd need to carry in order to burn the carbon.
  • by Neil Watson ( 60859 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @01:03PM (#9561685) Homepage
    Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators convert the heat of naturally decaying nuclear material directly into electricity.

    Fission reactors typically control a chain reaction and use the heat to create steam that turns a generator. That generator produces the electricity.

    Yes, at an atomic level the processes are similar (or even the same) but it is important to note the differences. The word nuclear is often maligned due to lack of understanding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @01:47PM (#9562246)
    133 comments posted so far. Here's a summary.

    7 off-topic "troll" posts.

    30 posts regarding the nuclear decay powering the craft or simply clarifying the fact that it is not a nuclear reactor.

    96 comments making jokes about the use of the word "insertion" with more than 80 of those comments also mentioning Uranus.

  • Re:ObSpock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @02:08PM (#9562496) Journal
    You would hear sounds inside the spacecraft for sure - in fact, one of the biggest complaints about life on the ISS is noise from all the equipment that is operating, it is very difficult to sleep through all the fans, pumps, and various apparatus turning on and off 24/7.

    But from outside, you wouldn't hear anything, unless electrical interference from the ship's system or natural sources was being picked up by your space suit radio. What is interesting, is that astronouts can communicate without radios if they touch their helmets together, as the helmet itself will carry sound.

    Even a nuclear blast in space wouldn't produce much of anything in the way of sound, as the only "atmosphere" would come from the vaporized bomb itself, and would be quite tenuous unless you were right beside it, when the thing went off. And you would of course be vaporized long before you could sense it.

    Most of the explosion effects would be thermal energy and radiation pressure. Particle and directed energy weapons (lasers or phasers?) would not produce any sound at all.

    The only way to get any sound at all floating about in a space battle, is perhaps if you were right beside a ship was ripped apart and lost pressurization. Then you would (very briefly) have a tenuous atmosphere to carry whispers of the ship's destruction. You might have better luck hearing something if you press your helmet to the hull of a vessel.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers