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NASA Space

NASA Returns Images of Frozen Worlds Enceladus and Pluto ( 37

MarkWhittington writes: This past week, NASA provided a look at two frozen worlds far out into the solar system. Cassini, currently orbiting Saturn, flew by the frozen moon Enceladus and provided the closest views yet of its north pole. New Horizons, hurtling deep into the Kuiper belt at the edge of the solar system, returned a fresh image of the icy region of Pluto known as the Sputnik Planum.
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NASA Returns Images of Frozen Worlds Enceladus and Pluto

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    • A world doesn't have to be a planet, or even a celestial body.
      Think about how the word is used in everyday life, then look up the definition.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <> on Saturday October 17, 2015 @05:12PM (#50750811) Journal

      As to your question, I defer to user Rei [] whom, if I recall correctly, had a very good account of why Pluto should, in fact, be called a planet. However, I'd also mention that he's altogether way too intelligent - I think my brain would explode to know as much as he seems to know.

      Anyhow, I'm not a rocket surgeon nor an astrologer (yes, see what I did there?) but I was a wee lad when we put a man on the moon. I remember staying up late to witness this and then it being the subject for the ENTIRE day in school when we returned to class. (At least I think that was it - I may be a bit fuzzy there and I'm too lazy to Google.) It may well have been another moon landing but I think it was the first?

      I guess my point is simplistic and shorter than I've typed here. NASA, fuck yeah! They are awesome. I strive, hard, to learn by consuming piles of documentaries - scads of them. I know the basics well enough and I am a maths grad so it's not like I'm unable to understand - I just lack the time and expertise to opine other than to say how impressive they seem to be.

      They're the only government body that I've donated to directly. I have sent them money and will likely do so again. Unfortunately, I'm unable to earmark my donations - any donations go to the general budget and not to a specific project no matter how much I complain. That's how I understood their reply, at any rate. I think they're underfunded and I'd sold my business a while before that and wanted to help. So, that's how I got the above information.

      If you're done donating to EFF, Heifer International, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, etc. then send a few bucks there way. I'm sure Google will show you how. I know, I know... We're 'taxed enough already' but think of this as taxation *with* representation where you're getting to put your money where your mouth is. (Generic you, not you personally.) Drop the Latte for six months and get a regular coffee. Save it up and donate it. Do a penny drive at work. Who knows? It might help, a little. And, if you don't like them - there's a few other organizations who can probably use some help. I mentioned a few of mine and I'm sure there are many others.

    • It's the astronomical equivalent of a girl referring to you as "a friend".

    • "World": big spherical thing in space
      "Planet": one classification for such a body.

      This article is about a KBO and a moon.

  • From the NASA site:

    The spacecraft obtained the images during its Oct. 14 flyby, passing 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Mission controllers say the spacecraft will continue transmitting images and other data from the encounter for the next several days.

    So, even NASA has to use a Tivo in their probes to skip ads...

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Days? I heard it will take longer than a year to get all the data from the encounter. Although, they prioritize it.

      • Days? I heard it will take longer than a year to get all the data from the encounter.

        Well, ads take more and more bandwidth these days...

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        That's my recollection as well. I seem to recall low-res images for 9 months and then quite a while longer for data and higher resolution images though some high-res are sent now but only a few as a matter of priority. So, yeah, I could have sworn there was a /. summary about it. I mean, no, I didn't read the article or anything like that but, yeah... I could have sworn that's what the summary said - something like 18 months before the data was done sending, perhaps?

        • If you think if New Hirizons in digital camera terms, its strategy is to send all the JPGs first over a period of weeks (done). It is now sending the huge slow RAW images, which will take months.

      • I believe the year long data dump is from the New Horizons spacecraft which passed by Pluto recently. The one that is currently orbiting Saturn and that visited Enceledus and will transmit over several days is the Cassini probe and is much closer to Earth.
  • Hah. "Sputnik Planum" is an anagram of "Platinum Spunk."

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <> on Saturday October 17, 2015 @06:46PM (#50751147)

    To get these probes to work in deep space requires a power source that lasts for decades in dim light, while weighing next to nothing. No chemical fuel will work, solar panels won't either. These things are nuclear powered. Problem is that we have a shortage of the plutonium-238 that makes these probes viable.

    Pu-238 is unique in that it produces easily shielded alpha radiation and all kinds of heat, and does so for decades. Pu-238 is different from the Pu-239 used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, in fact it's worthless for bombs. To get more Pu-238 we need nuclear reactors. Preferably we'd like reactors that make Pu-238 in greater quantities than Pu-239. We can get those in liquid fluoride thorium reactors, or LFTRs.

    LFTRs are a great technology, while producing power from what is now worthless thorium we also get valuable radioisotopes for medicine and industry. Most designs for LFTRs include means to prevent plutonium from being produced, because just saying "plutonium" in the vicinity of many Americans causes them to wet themselves. If designed to allow production of plutonium it would be nearly pure Pu-238.

    Sounds too good to be true, right? Cheap power, no "carbon footprint", valuable radioisotopes, all from a rock that is right now thrown away by miners because no one wants to buy it. Well, no one wants to buy thorium because the US federal government has deemed it worthless. The only thing keeping us from this near ideal power source is the United States Department of Energy.

    Some might ask, what about the radioactive waste? Well if done right there would be next to none. Whatever is radioactive is typically very valuable, if it's not fuel then it's valuable for medicine or industry. Problem with the radioactive "waste" we have now is that it's in a form that is difficult to process, all the good stuff is all mixed together in a way that is hard to separate. Well if you melt it down, burn off the stuff that is useful as fuel, then what is left is the really valuable stuff like Pu-238. Not only would LFTR produce much less waste than current reactors, it can do so while burning the "waste" from the reactors we've been using for the last 50 years.

    We're seeing candidates running for public office going around looking for votes. When they ask you want you want tell them you want to see NASA get the Pu-238 they need for deep space probes, and that LFTR looks like a good place to get it.

  • I wonder how many missions NASA could fund if they quit doing the fucking animations.

    I can watch cartoons on the Disney Channel. I started to watch their video but left after 20 seconds of animation. Show the damn pictures.

    Incidentally, and as an aside, years ago I had a friend in Houston who left NASA. This was shortly after a new version of Windows was rolled out and he got sick and tired of having his computer spontaneously reboot after updates were installed in the middle if the day.

    • It's a good idea for hoi polloi to understand the hngeneering context of a set of pictures. Animations establish that.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

      I wonder how many missions NASA could fund if they quit doing the fucking animations.

      Probably about the same. Glad I could help.

  • According to the article on the Nasa site (as cited in the /. summary above) Cassini will pass thirty miles or so from the south polar region of Enceladus. The probe will be able to sample the icy plume emitted by the moon. This could give us a glimpse into the chemicals found beneath the icy crust. Me, I'm hoping for hints of biochemistry. Wouldn't that be something?
  • So, how long until someone takes that photo of Pluto and tries to use it as proof of aliens, like the "face" on Mars?

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      I haven't checked, but I know it's already been done. Because it always is. Richard Hoagland, for example, sees one alien civilisation/NASA cover-up per pixel. Pixels are square you see, and square means artificial.
  • In the first big photo of Enceladus you can just make out at the end of the main trench a small vent hole. It's a long shot, but I reckon a skilled pilot could just about hit that with a torpedo.

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham