as "that golden machine, so dutiful and strong, ... enter('s) the realm of history, and the toils and triumphs of this long march (are) done."
i want to extend the thanks i have already sent to that "golden machine" to the human members of the team that machine was a part of.
your dedication and contributions are greatly appreciated, and should be appreciated for a long time to come.
the amazing imagery and information you have brought to us are breathtaking and astounding.
from the designers and assemblers, to the imaging team and scientists, to the radio-telescope operators who aimed their antennas to capture Cassini's voice, Thank You one and all.
i am sad that this great mission has ended.
i am also envious of those of you that participated directly with this mission. i have never had any opportunity to be a part of anything like it. not even close.
i can't think of a better way to spend 27 years of working life.
i have been enthralled with NASA's missions from the time i watched Echo I cross the night sky shortly after its launch.
of all the missions NASA has participated in, that i have witnessed, Cassini is, by far, the most spectacular.
i come from a background that believe inanimate objects can have spirit. both the Cassini and Huygens probes lend support to that notion.
the extraordinary performance, the unprecedented imagery, the astounding science these two stalwart machines have sent to use should be appreciated for generations to come.
i have come to think of the Cassini probe as a trusted friend who just keeps giving me things to appreciate. from unlocking the information that lead to the conclusion there is a liquid ocean under the ice crust of Enceladus, to awe inspiring images of the rings.
so, little robot, so far away, thank you for 13 years of stalwart service. you are a key member of a really great team.
i am firmly convinced you will be sorely missed by everyone on that team.
i know you will be missed by this member of the crowd in the grandstands. i strongly suspect you will be missed by many others.
so, dear friend, thank you.
thank you for all the images.
thank you for all the information.
most of all, thank you for all the windows that lead to insight.
Cassini really has set a high bar for future planetary exploration. an extremely high bar. i do not look forward to the end of this mission gladly.
as with any good scientific investigation, Cassini has left us with many more questions than answers. one important legacy of this mission is the very high quality of those questions.
i wish we spent more of our time, energy, and treasure on things like the Cassini mission.
it is things like this that remind me how much i am going to miss Cassini when it's gone. it ain't just the great images, it's a lot more. i will be here until the end of this ride.
whenever i see a back lit view of Saturn, i wonder how thick the apparently clear section of atmosphere is. how many miles between what looks like the top edge and what we see as cloud tops.
What is the atmospheric pressure where the clouds begin? how many kilometers tall are the cloud walls we see at the polar vortexes? what is the vertical scale of those structures we see?
whatever the answers, i am glad Cassini is there with the cameras to take the pictures.
the images continue to be mind boggling.
i am very curious about what the atmospheric pressure is where the tops of the clouds start forming. what order of magnitude are we looking at? i doubt it is as low as one atmosphere. i would be surprised if it was as low as ten. is it close to 100? 1000? how deep is that clear portion of atmosphere we are looking through? 100 kilometers? 500?
it is images like this that have me wanting to replace Cassini with another camera/instrument platform, or find a way to refuel Cassini. i want the images and science to continue.
and i want to find out what the heck is making the hexagon!
i have not been able to get to this page for about two weeks. glad to have it back.
and this image is just another Wow!
a little matter, a little angular momentum, set them loose and look at what you can get.
i still love the images here.
that has got to be one helluva deep atmosphere. how thick is that layer we see bent rings through?
and congratulation to the Ciclops team on another A.P.O.D. 1 August 2016.
the old robot still has the magic!
at first glance, i do see distance between Saturn and Tethys. i have to concentrate a little to see all the distance the perspective of the rings indicate is there, but i can see it.
a little concentration in the other direction and i can see Tethys at the same distance as Saturn, hovering over the pole.
fun to play with.
there's that hexagon again.
as an old school mechanic, i can't help but wonder, if you could put a wrench on that hex, could you unscrew it and take the planet apart?
what are the dimensions across the flats? (I'll check my tool box.)
i look forward to seeing some closer images of the north pole before mission end.
what is happening there is fascinating.
nice side by side image of two very different satellites.
i sure hope the server issues are resolved. i was very disappointed when i clicked on the web address and was not able to connect.
I am sure i missed something fun.
Hey, man, can we spin that platter and hear what's in those grooves?
i really love this site. i am never disappointed when i come here. i am very glad it's here, especially since the NASA page has become almost totally opaque to me. i am visually disabled and Dyslexic. to use a computer for any length of time i need a black background and medium grey letters. no problem with my settings here, but on the NASA page, nothing i need to navigate shows up. so big thanks to the CICLOPS team for keeping an accessible web page.
by comparison to the whole body of Cassini images, this one is rather simple and plain. goes to show, the most mundane of Cassini images are spectacular. wish we could refuel Cassini for another 25 years.
I keep wondering what the scale of depth is when we look at Saturn. how deep is the methane haze? how tall are some of those cloud structures? how much atmosphere would you have over your head at one Earth atmosphere pressure? what is the temperature and pressure where the cloud tops are forming? are these things that are just not known?
it always takes me a while to figure out what the sun direction is when i see images of Iapetus. nice image here, but i would like to see the original brightness level in a side by side. my guess is it would also show the contrast in the lighter terrain to better effect. either way, this is still one of the most fascinating objects in out solar system. glad to see another image of it.
i wrote an entire novel just from wondering what the rings would look like from underneath. i never get tired of seeing the images of the rings. i wonder what they looked like a thousand million years ago. i wonder if they will still be there a thousand million years from now. either way, i'm glad i get to see them the way they are today.
Thanks again Cassini, and thanks again Ciclops team!
Too bad Cassini couldn't do more than one close fly-by of this moon. i guess having so many fascinating spheres in one system makes it impossible to do them all justice. i vote for a Cassini II mission, then a III and a IV. but who could possibly replace Carolyn and the Ciclops team?
i have hesitated and gone back and forth with myself about responding to bwleung because it is so far off topic. i am very glad when anyone cares enough to want to respond to my situation, but inappropriate responses can do me more harm than good. perhaps bwleung didn't notice when i said "i am physically unable to sustain gainful employment"
being offered a job i can't do is no help.
what would help is competent, thorough primary medical care services. a thing i have never had in my adult life, and is apparently becoming extinct in the US.
or a shelter where the air quality is actually good enough i don't end up hemorrhaging.
on a happier note, one of the other things i do for stress relief is write science fiction. i am closing in on the end of a novel i titled "Ringshine" several of the moons of Saturn we have become familiar with through Ciclops, as well as the ring system, play important rolls in the climax of the novel. i'll let you know when it's finished. if anyone here want to read it we'll figure out a way to get it to you.
ten years ago today, i had been homeless for about half a year. i never had the opportunity to see the live coverage. i got to the library and found the images on the web.
in a world where too many believe they can assault and attack me solely because i am physically unable to sustain gainful employment, i am glad to have had the ten years of images and science here. it has been a refuge and a stress relief.
i am still homeless. have no hope of ever being anything else, and still enjoy the breathtaking and at at times startling images Cassini and Huygens cameras have brought us.
i would not have survived without them.
ten years ago today, i had been homeless for about half a year. i never had the opportunity to see the live coverage. i got to the library and found the images on the web.
in a world where too many believe they can assault and attack me solely because i am physically unable to sustain gainful employment, i am glad to have had the ten years of images and science here. it has been a refuge and a stress relief.
i am still homeless. have no hope of ever being anything else, and still enjoy the breathtaking and at at times startling images Cassini and Huygens cameras have brought us.
i would not have survived without them.
with all the horrible things bombarding us on the news almost every day, this is one of the good things our species is doing. the images here and the science they imply always lifts my spirits. Thank you Carolyn and the entire CICLOPS team, for being among the 'good guys' of the human species and giving so much of the good stuff to anyone who wants to take a look.
i keep wondering about that one geyser that isn't in the 4 tiger stripes. so often, it is the odd ball that has the most interesting information attached. anything else unusual about that one? could it be in what once was a more active fracture in the past? might it be a harbinger of where the next stripe might form?
then again, it might be something else entirely.
Is there a wizard on Prometheus? for some reason the name Landalf comes to mind. another 'magical' image from the wonderful robot. the Cassini probe has made marvelous images routine. i wonder what i am going to fill the time i have been spending here with when our camera toting friend is finally retired.
is there any measurement that tells us what the atmospheic presure is at the cloud tops? some of Cassini's images suggest cloud banks that are impossibly tall by Earth stadards. i wonder what the presure difference is from top to bottom of some of those cloud banks.
Cicles on Saturn? that big thing doesn't look like a circle to me. (could be my bizare vision is acting up again) has there been any more information to help understand what produces/sustains the hexagon? you did get a very good picture of it here.
another wonderful image. i like the ghostly veil the rings appear as in this one. it will be very difficult for any body of work to surpass the imagery Cassini has brought us so far. can we nominate a robot for photographer of the century? certainly one of the best cameras ever. incredible subject matter at almost every turn. most important, one heck of a team calling the shots from a light half hour away.
I'll bet those particles have a short orbital period. sad to read the end of mission is less than 4 years away. our capable robot friend is still giving us fantastic images and wonderful science. wish it could keep going for another decade or more.
another wonderful image. anyone hiding in there? i was wondering what the orbital periods are for ring particles? there must be quite a wide range. with such a short rotation period, is there a place in the rings where the orbit is Saturn synchronous?
i keep wondering if there might be some substructure that maintains this hexagon. perhaps the offset of the magnetic axis from the rotation axis? that might stir things up enough to make the north pole look like the top of a blender.
no matter what the cause, the phenomenon is fun to look at and fun to speculate about.
what could be maintaining that shape? any viable hypotheses out there?
for me, this moon is more fascinating than Enceladus. i understand processes that produce geysers. i can wrap my mind around the process that produces the color dichotomy. it's that equatorial mountain range that really gets me. the leading hypothesis i've seen is sound, but i wonder if there is more to it. i remember Arthur C. Clarke predicting that mountain range. as Carolyn Porco said "How did he know?"
i often miss things so the obvious impact craters elude me. i do see circular structures that i presume are chryo-volcanic in origin. to my eye, they appear to resemble doughnut shaped mounds. not a central peak, a central depression. i might be perceiving them in reverse, but i don't see how an impactor could get through that much atmosphere. even if i am seeing them wrong way out, they still don't look like typical impact craters to me. is there anything in the data set that confirms they are depressions or elevations?
clouds on this planet exist between sea level and 16 kilometers. Saturn's cloud banks have to be a lot taller that 16 km.
even when i have a terrible week, like the one i just had, coming to this site and looking at the breath taking images helps. the technology we have that lets us see these vistas, and the remarkable skill of the team that brings them to us is mind boggling. in the grand scheme of things Saturn is one of our closest neighbors. yet so much was hidden from us until we sent our remote eyes and ears out there. contemplating the detail of this huge vortex makes a really bad day better for me.
i think we may have learned more about gravity and gravitational interactions from watching the rings of Saturn than any other source. with the small moons like Daphnis, i wonder how stable they are. if the gravitational tides change, could the small moons be pulled into pieces? if some of them are really rubble piles, i would think it would not take much to return them to ring material.
is there an estimate of what the pressure range is at the altitudes where the clouds form? or an estimate of how deep the visible cloud forming altitudes are below say Saturn's ionosphere? i imagine the scale must be much larger that we experience here on Earth. the apparent altitude variations in the cloud banks we see make that obvious. is there anything in the way of a land mark in that huge atmosphere? anything that can give a reference point to the atmosphere we live in? where in relation to the clouds would one atmosphere pressure be?
Cassini has shared images of Earth and Venus with us from Saturn, and the suggestion was made to find Mercury and Mars as "morning stars." but i wonder what Jupiter would look like from Saturn. Venus and Earth look awesome. Jupiter should look spectacular.
will Cassini be operational long enough to get a good viewing angle?
as planets go, Earth and Venus have nearly identical masses. density is nearly identical. what we know about composition tell us there are striking similarities. there are major differences in the atmospheres; Venus has such a high concentration of greenhouse gasses that while only absorbing 30% more energy from the sun, it has a surface temperature that would melt lead. but what we know and what we can infer about what is below the surfaces tell us there are more similarities than differences.
as planetary science goes, there is a lot of good reasons to refer to them as twins. keeping in mind that twins need not be identical. i would compare the differences between Earth and Venus as being like human twins with different hair styles. from a planetary science standpoint, the similarities far outweigh the differences.
this is one of the phenomena i find fascinating. are they really moonlets? i have my doubts. my best guess is they are semi stable ruble collections. large enough to have the gravitational effect, but unstable enough to have a moving center of gravity. as the center "collects" particles from the ring neighborhood, the collisions also erodes particles from the pile.
these centers would not necessarily have an orbital period that matched the period of the ring material they are enclosed in. if i recall, that is what the measurements indicate. this hypothesis also implies the propellers might not persist. any missing propellers out there?
whatever the cause, the effect is marvelous to look at.
I quite agree on the aesthetic evaluation. within the beauty of the image, there is abundant information that helps in the understanding of everything from ring dynamics to the fundamentals of gravity. the main reason i keep coming back to this site is the combination of great artistry and great science in this astounding body of work.
and it keeps on coming.
i continue to be astounded by the detail in the images that keep on coming. the only words i can find that express my understanding, and lack thereof to the movement in the rings is there is a complex simplicity to the dynamics of the ring particles. then again, i was momentarily fooled by that other "moon" in this image. (the one identified as "background star") first look i was trying to remember what other moon was in the Encke gap. then i had the thought "background star" is a very unusual name for a moon.
Thanks to the whole Cassini team for another year of awe inspiring images. in a very close call, i nominate this one as best of 2012.
in any line of work there has to be some drudgery and irritating tasks. but if it ends up with things like the images shared on this web site, it has to be well worth any and all of the less pleasant moments on the job.
i sure wish someone would pay me to work on a project like this. if the idiots who think this kind of endeavor isn't worth funding actually get their way, they should be banished to Antarctica. (only because it would be too expensive to banish them to Triton.)
we have eyes orbiting Mercury, had orbiters around Venus, have orbiters and landers exploring Mars, have had orbiters in the Jupiter system, had a lander and have an orbiter in the Saturn system, flew by Uranus and Neptune, and will soon have a flyby of the Pluto system.
and i am old enough to predate all of them.
Of all the probes we have sent out, Cassini has been the most interesting, and not just because of the shear quantity of data out little robot friend has been sending us. Saturn has revealed more than enough surprises to grab anyone's attention.
Here's hoping for another year of awe inspiring images in 2013, and many more to come.
after looking at the "jaw dropping" image labeled "a splendor seldom seen" i had the thought that these perhaps 100 kilometer tall cloud banks could be a few hundred kilometers deep in the atmosphere.
is there an estimate on the atmospheric pressure at the cloud tops?
how about cloud top temperatures?
how deep is this atmosphere we are looking through?
thanks for the great images!
the back of the envelope calculation sounds reasonable to me. if it is anywhere near close, there has to be a lot of elevation change over those cloud tops. one heck of a vortex up there. interesting that the character, at least in appearance, is strikingly different from the south pole.
another set of "WOW" images. with the light angle showing so much three dimensional information, i could study the detail for hours.
could you folks at the lab please give us some sense of scale? i would love to get a ballpark idea how large the vortex is and how high some of those cloud mountains are.
i agree with Pablo.
what a stunning image. i can see why newtoy has some visual confusion. the transition from seeing the rings back lit with sunlight, to invisible in full shadow, to back lit from double reflected planet glow renders a remarkable experience.
once again i am struck by scale and wish i had a yard stick to give me an idea how large some of the dimensions i am looking at are. the band of glow through the atmosphere, as thin as it appears in the image, has to represent a large chunk of kilometers on an orb as large as Saturn. does the planet side edge of that band represent the cloud tops we see in other images?
to the whole Cassini team; thanks for the great holiday gift!
i have been waiting to see what our old friend the hexagon was doing. looks like it is doing much the same as the last time we had a look. but this time, it is out of the dark and we have great high resolution images.
Heck, Tethys is dwarfed by one circular cloud formation in the southern hemisphere. i can just imagine if we had a storm with a larger diameter than our moon. on Saturn, a storm with a diameter larger than Titan might be just medium sized.
what a system!
Well look at that. light from some atmospheric phenomenon at 1000 kilometers. and some sources claim the atmosphere on Titan is less than a third that deep. i have always been impressed with the gas envelope that moon holds. even more so now. it looks like it has quite the ionosphere way up there.
i remember being taught that objects as cold as Titan would be too cold to display much in the way of weather. not enough heat to stir things up. yeah right.
what a great image. looks like a lot of weather up there to me.
I've been thinking that perhaps these features are not caused by tiny moons. in fluid dynamics, if you have a slow down at one point in a flow, it will produce a wave that moves upstream. eg; if one car slows down 5 mph in 60 mph "bumper to bumper" traffic, a few miles behind that car, traffic will come to a complete stop. the hypothesis i am attempting to communicate is that the propeller "moons" might not be solid bodies at all. perhaps they are rubble concentrations caused by something akin to the wave phenomenon i described. no individual orbiting particle would stay in the sphere of concentration for long. the concentrated mass could be enough to produce the visible propellers. the concentration could move along the orbital path slower, possibly even faster, than orbital velocity.
when i read you found propellers behind predicted positions, i thought my hypothesis might be worth mentioning.
another serious WOW image! what an atmosphere.
So what was the sun spacecraft Titan angle on this one? i looked for that information in the text. was disappointed not to find it.
looks like old Sol is hiding a little closer to the north pole, or maybe not even behind Titan. just out of frame to the north perhaps?
fascinating things happening on this unique moon. who said gasoline and water don't mix? essentially that is what this moon is made of. ice with an icing of hydrocarbons. but what is actually happening in that 600 K deep atmosphere that generates those polar hoods?
does the IR imaging give us any clues?
If I recall, that round structure is believed to be an impact crater. the only visible evidence of impact on Titan, so far. if i am not mistaken, clouds do not show up at the wave lengths where these images are taken.
you are dead right about this being a wonderful mosaic.
What a fascinating planet. even tho it is orbiting another fascinating planet.
i remember in grammar school being taught that planets were very rare in the galaxy and planets with atmospheres had to be even rarer. i never could reconcile that with the fact that the only star we were close enough to detect planets around had nine we could see. Seven of the nine had atmospheres we could detect and most of the planets had planets. now our technology has reached the point where my skepticism has been justified. we have a wonderful collection of worlds in our solar system. what great fun it is to be able to share in close observations of so many of them. what great fun those who follow us will have when they can share similar observation of what we call exoplanets.
i also find that scale makes a difference. i only have this problem with high resolution images. the greater the actual area the image covers, the less likely i am to see the craters "inverted."
I have the same problem with most of the high res images of the icy surfaces. i thought it was just me. (glad to know i'm not alone!)
even tho i know i am seeing craters, my brain still interprets the images as mounds. every once in a great while, i can change my perseption and see the craters. wish i knew how to do it all the time.
Another source lists the atmosphere on Titan as 600 Kilometers deep. they must be counting the real wispy stuff. either way the ice ball has a very thick envelope around it. no wonder impact evidence is so hard to come by.
I just looked up the gravity on Titan; 0.14 Earth gravity.(didn't think of doing that before i asked here)
for Titan to maintain 1.5 atmospheres pressure at 0.14 G, there has to be one heck of a mass of gas in those 200 kilometers of atmosphere.
i nominate Titan for a new class of solar system bodies; Gas Midget.
a hot 'air' balloon aught to work like gangbusters up there.
What is the gravity on Titan?
not Tital, Titan.
(i hate when my fingers hit the wrong key)
when i mentioned that i know it is raining on Tital, i should have added an LOL.
as to Where i have been; Golfing on Iapetus!
Carolyn; i know that. the higher condensation temperature might help me wrap my mind around those great 'gas' lakes. Do we have any measurements that can tell us anything about how much of that rain is ethane?
if we had that much liquid methane available down here, we would really have a greenhouse gas problem!
200 kilometers deep! you can orbit Earth at 200 kilometers. how much does the 1.5 atmosphere presure raise the condensation temperature for ethane and methane? that much presure should make it easier to rain.
what a fascinating system! what a colection of extremes. Titan's atmosphere; the "paint job" on Iapitus; the gysers on Enceledus; the weather on Saturn; and the whole ring thing.
when do we get a half dozen more probes up there to study all this big time? (yeah, right)
as i recall, the depth of Titan's atmosphere is rather asounding as well. how does that compare with other solid surfaced objects in the solar system that have atmospheres? i believe that the depth of atmosphere in relation to size has to be the greatest.
hefty and cold too. dense stuff down (up?) there. maybe the next probe this planet sends to Titan should be powered by a wind generator.
Do we know what the atmospheric presure is on the surface of Titan? i don't recall seeing it published anywhere.
if you do know, please, What is it?
There certainly is a lot of "air" around that ice ball! the only atmosphere in our solar system that comes to mind for comparable depth and presure is Venus. very deep, a lot more presure, but a lot more gravity as well. To say nothing of way more heat.
1.5 atmospheres with Titan's gravity is one heck of a lot of gas. the "visible" atmosphere above the orange cloud deck is very deep to the unaided eye. are we talking hundreds of kilometers from detectable atmosphere to surface?
kennyfrew; one of the things i find most amazing is what we see here is mostly water ice. not lava flow, ice and snow. it is mostly floe.
thanks for another year of breathtaking images and intelectual stimulation. Keep up the great work! as is said in Russian; Vsevo Khorosheva! Everything Good! (it is a wish. not an observation.)
NeKto aka Aleksei
What a wonderful way to celebrate Saturnalia! (a ten day ancient Roman holiday starting on the winter solstice, or so i'm told)
Those ancient Romans didn't have a clue about the real majesty of the planet and system they gave the name to.
Carolyn, i am glad to see there is enough data about this storm to suport a paper. i look forward to seeing it published!
i agree that pattience is nessesary in scientific investigation, but i believe that scientists should never be so patient that they hesitate to ask good questions.
the work that the whole team has shared with us here proves you have been asking great questions. the proof is, the results have led to many more great questions.
my exprience is the best science produces answers that generate exponentially more questions than were asked in the first place.
thanks for sharing, Team!
I like dholmes requests. i would like to see everything on his list. the weather we experience on this planet, storms are powered in part by the energy of phase change; the release of heat going to liquid or solid from a gas, or the absorption of heat going to the vapor phase. is there any evidence of such prosesses going on in this storm? what chemicals might be "raining" from one elevation to another?
another great set of images. i was wondering why we weren't seeing more images of this storm; you folks at CICLOPs have been saving up. Is there any information on the chemisrty, temperature and presure in these storm clouds? i wonder what kind of percipitation there might be, if any. as a surface bound terestrial, i can't help but imagine some sort of rain, sleet or snow howling from that monster storm.
After i do all my "buzy" work on the web, I come hear. there is always something pleasant to look at. this image is another example of what draws me here. Carolyn one told me she hoped i came here first. I think i pay a higher compliment by comming here last.
This image give the impression that the Ithica Chasma run perpendicular to the apparent line of impact that created the Odysseus Crater. Suggesting the hypothesis that the creation of both is somehow related.
any evidence to suport or falsify that hypothesis?
i keep coming back to this image. if we did not know the context, the easiest interpretation would be that the smaller object is a satellite of the larger. But we know that isn't the case. it keeps me thinking of all the background information that goes into extracting science from the images we receive. then again, i just like this picture.
Thank you, Captain.
a scientist who cannot apreciate the art of this image cannot feel. an artist who cannot apreciate the science of this image cannot think.
as a species, we need to be able to do both!
for me this makes the day better.
There you go again; having way too much fun at work! When images like this come down, it is a lot more like being paid to play. i revel in your good fortune, largely because we get to enjoy it too!
what a spectacular phenomenon.
Andrew Brown, i agree; the images are wonderful. Awe inspiring.
at 1/1500th of earth normal gravity, whatever the nature of the granuals, they will not be tightly packed. perhaps thermal expansion and contraction from daylight to night, as weak as the daylight warmth is out there, might be enough to dislodge losely packed particles. Sunslides!
when you concider how much closer to the center of gravity the "low lands" where the erosion is going really are, the gradients are no where near shallow. they are very very steep.
i agree whole heartedly with your aesthetic assesment.
Mass concentrations is an interesting hypothesis. Any way to test any of this? i had not thought of unequal mass distributions as a posible cause of the "flow lines" (but i had thought perhaps they might be fingerprints of the "person" who made this snow ball. rather big hands. anything match in the FBI database?) i do see the resemblance to hair growth.
if the flow lines are ice from Enceladus, what colected that ice into lines? the most likely force i can think of is gravety.
Andrew, at first glance i thought the flow lines were all pointing to the low spots. not radiating out but flowing down. i find such fetures fascinating on non hydrodynamicly stable objects. they might tell us something about what happens as mass of non stable objects increases during acretion.
Red dragon is right. APOD editors please take note.
i love this image. Makes our plain one moon planet system look down right ordinary. if it wasn't for this silly "life" on this planet, there wouldn't near as much interesting stuff as the Saturn system.
John, i would say your hypothesis is possible. Large chunk of ice is more likely than an earthly atmospheric phenomonon.
i don't see enough in the image to tell me what the object in question is, but i will say it does not look like any artifact i have seen in previous images, processed or not. It sure looks like something is there.
Like stowaway and Red-dragon, Ciclops has been a regular stop for me every day i have web access. Usually my last stop. i like to spend as much time here as i can. i have been able to relate so much that i have seen in these images to orbital dynamics, gravitation, "geo"physics, and a great deal more. i have enjoyed the woderful learning experience that has been Cassini to date, and look forward to more. i have also learned a lot from the insiteful and inteligent comments from many of the Sector Six Aliance members.
all together, this has made ciclops my favorite web site. I think having someone as talented and intelligent as Carolyn Porco leading the team, that has no shortage of intelligence or talent anywhere, may have something to do with that.
Here's hoping those immensely talented engineers at JPL get our little robot friend back on line soon.
Between this image and a movie of the resonant edge movement of the B ring (that i can't find at the moment) there is a visual sugestion of Texture; "course grains" at the outer edge of the ring and smaller grains, smoother texture in the body of the ring. Could larger particles be selectively collecting near the outer edge? Or perhaps the oscilations produce a higher density that makes the course apearance? The whole picture looks very reminiscent of large scale spice grinding to me. Could large particles agregate at the edge and be "ground" into finer particles by the oscilation?
Are we going to have any more log entries Captain? i thought maybe there was something in the last year worth mentioning. i, for one, have looked forward to the new log entries. after waiting for more than a year i was wondering if there was something wrong with my display.
DoLMJ, thanks for the info. it seams this is a case of equilibrium. i had thought enough particls in the E ring would be lost to solar wind as well as disassociated and or ionized by solar radiation to be swept away by magnetic forces. Enough particle loss that it would leave less mass to fall back on Enceladus than is ejected. this system is more stable than i thought.
ijusth; i asked the same question about change in mass in March. no answers yet. on the question of where any shrinking might end, as i understand it, the gravitational friction that is the best hypothesis for providing the heat that powers the jets would become inefective in a much smaller body. Thus, if Enceladus is shrinking, the venting should stop from lack of heat long before Enceladus gets small enough to break up.
But seriously folks; do the jets produce enough thrust to measurably move the orbit of Enceladus?
p.s. Red dragon is quite correct about the image!
The impulse engine do not appear to be accelerating the space craft, Captain.
i hate to say this, but i have come up with a hypothesis that explains the atmospheric chemistry near Titan's surface. No biology is involved.
i was doing some thought experiments along the lines of metal catalysts when i remembered that ice has different forms in cryogenic temperatures than it does at our "Earth normal" range. what i came up with is the possibility that water ice might be a catalyst for the reactions that "hydrogenate" the unsaturated hydrocarbons produced in the upper atmosphere.
if the surface of the ice has a crystalline structure that places oxygen atoms on the surface in proper alignment, there might be sufficient attraction to form hydrogen bonds, thus forming weak bonds with the hydrogen gas in the atmosphere. Carbon is reactive with both oxygen and hydrogen. if there is sufficient attraction, the unsaturated hydrocarbons might "stick" to the molecular surface already "coated" with hydrogen. if this catalyzed a reaction, is should put heat into the ice "rocks" that is not in the tar sands.
At night this should make the ice warmer than the tar.
is there a way to test that?
i do not know enough cryo-chemistry to know if this hypothesis is feasible, but i know that, if it is, several possible impurities in the ice might make it more likely. Alloying agents if you will. So, if you can shoot this one down, please do. i would rather find some simple biology.
Thank You Chris McKay.
as i said earlier, fascinating discussion!
Energy availability, i had not considered that. It is another important factor determining the possible rate of evolution and the complexity of life. It does place a rather low ceiling on any hypothetical biological activity.
another factor i suspect might limit the possibility of life on Titan is, what are available for what life here utilizes as micro nutrients? Life here has the vast majority of the periodic table available. as an example we need everything from iodine to zinc to stay healthy. And liquid water is far closer to a universal solvent than liquid methane.
But any process i can hypothesize, living or not, requires chemistry more complex than what can be expected from cryogenic water ice, hydrocarbons, nitrogen and ammonia. What else is out there? Is there any information on what "impurities" are in those ice boulders or the "tar sands" we see in the Huygens images?
How ever the "hydrogenating" of carbon compounds near the surface is being accomplished, the process must be using something to catalyze the chemistry. There has to be something very interesting going on.
This is a fascinating discussion!
For the sake of argument let us presume a case where there is some form of life on Titan. No mater what the specifics of the biochemistry involved, there is a very high probability the reactions will be exponentially slower than biochemical reactions at temperatures found on Earth. Therefore, i hypothesize any life on Titan will have had exponentially fewer generations to evolve than it's terrestrial counterparts.
If there is life on Titan, i strongly suspect it will be far more primitive than life on earth. The most likely form my imagination conjures up is something analogous to a cryogenic slime mold, but i wouldn't rule out something as complex as a trilobite.
it will be fascinating to see where the data leads in this investigation.
Ya gatta love those great little robots out there! they have sent us data that has led to some of the best and most interesting science in centuries.
Yes, that snowball is bright.
intriguing that the Saturn system includes some of the brightest albedo in the Solar system and some of the darkest. i am so glad i am able to see the images from this mission. i have told so many people that this is my favorite web site that i lost count years ago. this has to be one of the simplest images i've seen here, but it was well worth the look. Just like all the other images i've seen.
i am disappointed there will be no imaging of Pan at this close approach. I echo Mercury_3488 in bemoaning the fact that we will not be seeing more close imaging of Iapetus.
Too Many Fascinating Objects....not enough orbit.
on the other hand, we have been getting great images and fascinating science.
John got here before i did, so i get to be an echo. Congratulations! Well Earned, Well Deserved, And ABOUT TIME!!!. Carl Sagan and Issac Asimov did so much to make science accessable, understandable, and fun. I can't think of anyone else in this day and age who is as deserving of awards named for those two as you are. Keep up the great work!
Good friend Red_dragon, i recall images of lightning taken by one of the Voyagers as it passed Jupiter. There was an audio recording made from the disurbances the lightning made in the planet's magnetic field. That was facinating. Genuine music of the spheres!
Well here we go, another facinating data set with completely unanticipated information. this certainly warrants further investigation. can't wait to see where this leads.
i'll bet this made for some fun at CICLOPS when it came down. wish i could work there!
so often when i view this site i wish there were more words for "wow."
this image give the impression of "snow" flowing down a mountain. everything about this surface looks "new". no craters and the look of fresh snowfall.
I guess no one has an answer for my question about a ball park estimate about mass loss over time. Is there a range of posibilities calculated? I am very curious about this moon. Was it measureably more massive in the distant past?
Carolyn, has anyone on the team calculated a ball park figure for the mass loss from Enceladus over time? The tectonic flows indicated in the images tell us the jets have been feeding the E ring for a long time. Was this moon substantially more massive in its remote past? or to put it another way, how much weight has this snow ball lost on the tiger stripe geyser diet?
Thank you Carolyn. Hyperion it is. the effects of porosity are far more vivid there than on other moons, but the charector of the "slump" craters sugest to me that even some of the hydrodynamicly stable moons have "crusts" with higher porosity than i expected before Cassini. if i can recall the other moons i've seen them on, i'll let you know.
Carolyn, i greatly appreciate the fact that the team leader at CICLOPS can look at these images, see the gist of all the scientific information they offer, and still see the resemblance to the head of a fish. perhaps that is one of the reasons why so many of the images you (the whole team) have shared with us are so artistic, awe inspiring, and breathtaking.
one thing that strikes me about Mimas is what i have been calling "slump craters" a formation typical on one of the outer irregular moons whos name excapes me at the monent. i am refering to craters that sugjest low density crust with a goodly amount of space between ice crystals. making craters that look like the impactors compress more than excavate.
on some of the monitors here at the library there apears to be a color change just ahead of twilight. a slightly blue arc ahead of the terminator. it may be an artifact of the monitor technology, but it is stiking.
i have to agree with both Red Dragon and Carolyn; the cresent images of Saturn are breathtaking. perhaps part of the magic is those images are something we can never see from "home."
Carolyn: i guess my confusion may be mostly a matter of vocabulary. when i see "jet stream" i think in terms of terrestrial meteorology; a phenomonon that is very narrow in width and depth, but can effect weather all the way to the surface. i can wrap my mind around several ways a jet could be caused by the hexagon, but i can't hypothesize a system where the jet causes the hexagon. then again, i am much less interested in what it is than how and why it is!
Hello Carolyn. i hope you can clarify something for me; if the hexagon is just a jet stream, why do we see it in the infrared images? if my understanding is correct, those images show structures substantially deeper than the visible light images. that is very deep for a jet stream. is it possible something at greater depth is creating the geometry that the jet stream winds its way around?
or is it more likely the jet is forming the hexagonal structures we see at geater depth?
I would love to see what differences if any the north polar vortex shows compared to the south pole. i also wish i could edit some of the misspellings i missed last post (sorry CaRolyn)
i had the thought that perhaps the hexagon is stable just from the natural stability of the shape itself. then the question becomes; what initiated it? are we going to have enough information on this mystery for an article in "Science" or "Scientific American" any time soon?
I M; looks like i was of 3 orders of magnitude off on my allen key guess!
Thank you Caolyn. i read the release. the big hex sure is big. i will be happy to see any of the science that comes from the image information. i can't think of another bit of weather in our solar system that come close to being as bafling as Saturn's hexagon.
also read the release on Iapatus. hope to read the articles in "Science" soon.
I M; do you think a 1.7*10^13mm Allen key would be in the ball park?
But Really, Carolyn, if you folks on the Team could give us an aproximate dimention for the big hex i for one would greatly appreciate it. must take an aweful big swizzle stick to stir that drink.
the more i see it, the more it reminds me of blending something in the kitchen where the "mix" is moving at different speeds.
Another great set of images Team! thanks again!
Like PolishBear i was thinking something deep was generating a standing wave, as billclawson hypothesised. the one thing i know is "deep" is the offset between the rotational axis and the magnetic axis. but if that is causing the hexagon on the north pole why no hexagon on the south? if the magnetic axis and the rotational axis do not cross near the center of the planet, then the "blender" effect could produce a resonant standing wave at one pole but not the other.
can anyone at Ciclops tell me what falsifies my hypothesis so i can try something else?
Thank you Carolyn.
i was thinking that before Voyager we had little or no idea there was anything this interesting going on in the Satern system. As soon as Cassini arived we started to find out there are TONS of fascinating things going on in the Saturn system.
every image has the potential to suport or falsify any number of hypotheses. The jets on Enceladus are fascinating, but so are the equitorial mountains of Iapetus, as well as the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan. then there is this huge standing wave system that has me totally baffled.
our stalwart little robot friend way out there and all of you on the imaging team have given us gifts whose full value may never be determined. i am so glad i am here to see this.
When do we get our first post equinox view of the hexagon?
i've been waiting for this.
Are there any hypotheses out there to explain this huge standing wave?
Respected PeterDarmady! you and i had the same heros on the top of our lists. the physics, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and astronomy i learned from the three greats you name has alowed me a deeper apreciation of the great work our little robot friend and the CICLOPs team have shared with us.
the late great Walter Cronkite said we had run out of superlatives describing the U.S. space program in the 1960s. Wonder what he would thingk today. once more we are at a point where words are inadequate. i can't spell them right anyway, so i'm not woried about it.
i am eager to see what the team is working on that hasn't been released yet.
Can anyone blame me for wanting more?
for years the images comming from Cassini have stimulated the over use of the responce "WOW!" wheneve i've checked in here.
"Superbly beautiful" is as good as the words get. but i have been finding the words inadequate for quite some time. this is another image where i find myself awe struck by the compelling artistry of the image and at the same time overwelmed by the intelectual stimulus of the science. all while the image itself teaches me things about gravity, orbital mechanics, ring dynamics and Saturn itself, just by looking at it.
i want a new verb to describe this. largely because, once again, i come to this web site and find myself "Cassinied" or maybe i've been "ciclopsed."
thanks again everyone on the team.
(p.s. haven't been able to get to the Trek movie yet.)
Add up the contributions from scientists and engineers like Galileo, Newton, Johanas Kepler, E. Howard Armstrong, Robert Goddard, and too many more to list, and you get Carolyn Porco and the Cassini imaging team "standing on the shoulders of Giants" giving us one of the best vistas our species has ever seen.
and at least one more pair of shoulders for the next generation to stand on.
what a beautiful image. seeing this color change close up is well worth the price of admission. (just my opinion) i am eager to hear what the scientist come up with to explain Saturn's seasonal colors.
i think the side note is an important observation; so far it appears most of the moons of Saturn display a mix of ages in their terrain. before these cameras got there the thoughts i heard were that that would be the exception rather than the rule.
It really does resemble a nibble out of a cookie. So what can the "dentists" say about the "teeth" that made the "bite" from this perspective? it is great to be alive while this is happening. i feel sorry for people who can't appreciate it. i have had and am having so much fun enjoying both the artistry of so many of the images and the science in all of them.
thanks again CICLOPS!
i concur with the prediction that blue will appear in the south as the seasons change. the speculation on the reasons for the color chance is quite intriguing. i enjoy listening to all the possibilities put forth before the one that best fits the data is decided upon. some of the most interesting things to me are the ones that remain "up in the air." the Saturn system certainly has not disappointed on that score!
this is one image i have been waiting for. the hexagon is still there. i want to compare this with the voyager images. i recall a visible altitude difference in some of the older images that doesn't show up here.
the detail in this image is extraordinary. i hope there are some clues here to help unravel the forces that sustain this structure.
this made my morning!
thank you Carolyn. there are moments when i look at the detailed images of the rings i feel like i am hearing a symphony for the first time. i have no capacity to identify all the instruments. i guess those non gravity forces may have had minor visible effects over a couple thousand million years. to mix metaphors, perhaps they shade the pallet gravity is painting with. but with all the moons within and outside the rings, there is still a symphony. i'll let you scientist folks figure out which instrument is vibrating what string. but i will continue to enjoy the symphony.
Has there been a determination of how much, if any, material from the rings is falling into Saturn? Jupiter's rings appear to descend into the atmosphere. i am curious how "empty" Saturn's ring plain is in close proximity to the planet.
and thanks for another year of great images!
Friend Red Dragon; there is so much more than gravity at play here. although the major sculptor is gravity, there is also a very strong magnetic field, static electric charges, solar wind and who knows what else. whatever the complete set of influences is, to my eye, the sculpture is magnificent!
when Voyager flew by the rings of Saturn we learned how much we did not know about gravity. i am amazed that the most familiar fundamental force in the universe, one we all understand on a gross level, continues to suprize when the small details are examined. no one predicted anything like this, that i ever heard, before we actually had this kind of close look.
the mind's eye can certainly see many perspectives in many of these images. for a moment i saw Mimas as if it were just inside the F ring. obviously imposible. i am very intrigued by the image of the rings at this phase angle, espesially with the two moons brightly lit in the forground. i have been wondering how "dark" the unlit side of the rings would look in comparison to something brightly iluminated.
love this image!
i just read the Scientific American article. i can enthusiasticly recomend it. a very good presentation of what is known and is not known about the enigmatic little moon. and a good presentation on what the energy source might be and why some hypothesis have been eliminated. sometimes the best moments in science are when a great big question mark is uncovered. i think this is one of those moments. Great article Carolyn. thank you. (there is even a small photo of Carolyn Porco with a blue eyed friend.)
greetings from the oncology ward of Hartfod Hospital. the Cassini images have been wonderful recreation for me for a long time, but never more than during my stay here.
the dynamics of things going on in this image is mind bogling and facinating. it is also aesthetically pleasing. there are moments when i want to put a phonograph neadle in those ring grooves just to find out what it would sound like. at the moment i would think the "moonlets" that are making the "propellers" are not long lived. from what the CICLOPS and Cassinni scientist have said, they probably lack suficient cohesion to stay together if there are any disruptive forces, tidal, magnetic or otherwise. i guess they are best described as rubble piles. they do make facinating paterns in the ring images!
i have been waiting for daylight to get to the hexagon. at this level of detail it makes it even more mind boggling that that huge resonance can persist. all the small storms meandering around it make me think the hexagon must have its origins well below the visable weather.
Sorry, forgot to add; nice image. Red_dragon; another nice comparison. thanks again.
Back in the old days (Mercury program to voyager) the stated "Mission cost" had more to do with harware and launch. the actuall science work was budgeted as "operations"
this is from the typical military acounting procedures inherited by NASA. But the harware and launch are the major expences. once you get the vehicle where you want it, the rest is "pennies on the dollar". from my point of view, the "good stuff" (real scientific data) is cheep, getting the "shovel" to where you can "dig it up" is what costs the most.
my guess is the number you have is "in the ball park."
Thanks again Carolyn. you have three talents that i greatly apreciate; you say what i wanted to say better than i did, you remind me of important facts that had slipped my mind, and you add information that goes a long way toward putting the big picture together. thanks for all of that.
one thing that crossed my mind; at the temperature and presure of Enceladus' surface, it would not take a lot of heat to sublimate water ice. But there is a rather substantial ring that has persisted for a rather long time that, by all indications, is fed by material vented out of Enceladus. That adds up to a lot of heat disapated over time. so far the indications are that the jets are continuous. i would find it hard to accept that that amount of heat could be generated within Enceladus without something melting somewhere.
this Saturn system is intriguing as all get out. i'm having a great time trying to figure some of it out, and i'm only playing!
TomMadigan and Andrew Brown;
thank you both for the iluminating information. i felt the hypothesis of tidal heating was rather low probability largely because i had no information on the eccentricity of Enceladus' orbit. it would be a great help to me if anyone could put together a schematic diagram of the Saturn system, even tho it would be a small enciclopedia at this point. (my dyslexia is affecting me rather badlt today, please excuse any misspellings)
i am not ready to elevate tidal heating above the leval of hypothesis yet, but there are no better candidates at the moment. i still have the same problem with tidal heating i had when the discovery of the jets was first anounced; why is the heat confined to such a small region? why are there no general signs of wide spread heat distribution? there would have to be some very unusual substructure to explain the limited area of new terain and the abundant evidence of very old terain. That is possible, but how probable?
Carolyn; there is always that chance that something obvious will show up on the next image. if the team didn't see anthing obvious on this set, then we didn't get that lucky this time. Guess you folks will have to do some more "work" to get the big fun out of this ice ball. (but the fun so far is well worth it!)
i was able to see the "older" terain next to the active suci with a great deal more clarity. i can't tell if those "old" stripes are remnants of formerly active sulci or if the "chapped lips" as one of our other members described them migrate outward from the active sulcus. unless i am drasticly misreading what i see, those two hypotheses have to cover the majority of probabilities for the formation of what i see.
Pipipot, the magnetic field of Saturn is symetric as far as Enceladus is concerned. any efect on the south side should be the same on the north unless there is substantial ionization. not very likely at the temperatures of the big ice ball. we don't know how deep the melting is yet, other than it is close enough to the surface to vent. how close does the liquid come to the core? I haven't got enough information to even guess. But i think your questions are good from a non-scientist. sounds like you are having as much fun with these images as i am!
Carolyn; well said. the question that keeps jumping out at me, as i look at all the information in these extrordinary images, is this; is there anything here that gives us any indication what is powering the vents? from where i sit that is the big question. by the way, the results far exceded the anticipation!
Red dragon; Carolyn reminded me that the hexagon has been there since the voyager fly-bys. i think it will stil be there come Saturn spring. the latest images i saw indicate there is a huricane like eye at the north very similar to the south pole. they were InfraRed images so it isn't certain yet. if you remember an image called "string of pearls" also in IR, i think that was another indicator that there are very strong resonant forces in Saturn's northern hemisphere. the angle here looks like it might be secondary to the hexagon. so far i have failed to imagine any force that could be so strongly resonant in the north and leave no evidence of resonance in the south. one of the things i really love about Cassinni is it the marvelous little robot is leaving us with such great questions!
I found an answer to my question on the NASA web site. an interview with the star skeet shooter. i guess what was apparent to me was obvious to the scientist looking at these images. the vents have been meandering along the sulci. now i wait to see what the "chapped lips" have to say about the source of energy behind all this.
WOW! Carolyn; thank you and the entire team for this great gift! i am having a lot of fun looking at this. i know enough about orbital mechanics, or in this case perhaps balistics, to apreciate the huge amount of number crunching to pull this off. (and thhe number crunching is the easy part!) to my mostly untrained eye i think i see what indicates the specific places the jets eminate from. if i am correct, it looks to me like those "points" have meandered along the sulci over time. please let me know if i am anywhere near right. (if you have the time!)
Well Done Paul Helfenstein!!! conratulations and three cheers on an extrodinary job! i use to track satelites with Keplarian ellements, a globe, and a piece of string. that ballpark was a lot easier than the one these home runs were hit in! Thanks to you and the whole team!
There is so much information in these images! if i am not mistaken, one of the "tiger stripes" is in the lower right of this image. the detail of the "snow" on the slope is very telling. first glance gives the impresion that the "snow" has been flowing down the slope.
i am eagerly looking forward to any aditional detail processing might give us. especially some contrast enhancement of what might be in the shadows at the "botom" of the stripes.
i am drooling in anticipation. this is going to be great fun!
so how do i get to the short cut to next week?
you folks have the great fortune of getting paid to have all this fun, but considering how much fun I am having, i think i would give you a raise! (if only it were up to me!)
I was looking at the details of the Messenger images from Mercury published in "Science." To my eye there are similarities. The rims of many of the Mercury craters don't appear as "relaxed" to my eye as those on Enceladus, but the floors appear similar. just looking at them, the notion comes to me that the material in the bottom of the impact was warm enough in both cases to be more elastic than craters formed elsewhere.
i will be very interested in what the measurements and science have to say about the crater formation processes on these two bodies.
i too was struck by the unique character of the craters in this image. i've not seen the like of them anywhere else. the closest thing i've seen is ant lion traps in sand. My first thought was perhaps the energy of impact was enough to turn something in the sub surface to slush. perhaps carbon dioxide and or amonia were liquified enough to lubricate the underlying ice crystals.
I'll wait and see what the experts come up with.
By the way Carolyn, i still think you are having too much fun at work. we all should be so lucky!
as the seasons change on Saturn i would expect some changes in upper atmosphere flow paterns. on our tiny planet several factors can change the heat radiated to space, so i was wondering if there could be signifant weather changes on Saturn to measurably alter heat flow from lower to upper atmosphere. Are there any plans to do any comparison IR images as the northern hemisphere seasons change?
I recall reading something 40 or so years ago that stated that all the angular momentum in the universe HAD to add up to zero. (Rather dogmatic i think.) Your team's work at Saturn has shown that some of the most breathtaking views in the universe have angular momentum as a primary component. The big orb with the big rings sure does make spin look good!
Carolyn, You gave one excelent, and clasic, example of the conservation of angular momentum. I'm stil wondering where the primordial angular momentum came from. Has Stephen Haking said anything about the rotation of the big bang?
It seams the most common things we see in the universe are either rotating discs or rotating spheroids. Has anyone found an answer for where the angular momentum came from?
Respected cmckay! you made an important point; that the non biological source for the hydrocarbons does not preclude biological activity. our wonderful little robot friend has given us a great deal of information to work with. with great teams like ciclops, jpl and others working on the data, i anticipate fascinating answers and more intriguing questions!
And Tiger, the most fundamental question the Saturn system poses to us is one i do not believe Cassinni can answer; that is the fundamental nature of gravity itself. i am confident that anyone on this forum agrees gravity exists. we know a lot about how it works, but what we know so far still cannot explain the complexities we see in the Saturn system. if i am not mistaken, human exploration of the Saturn system has generated more controversy in gravitational theory than anything else since the inseption of gravitational theory.
thank you cmckay. i was wondering what indicators could tell us about the source of the organic molecules. what you say about the mass spectrum makes sence to me. (i had forgotten how rare C2 hydrocarbons are in biomass!) it does lean toward non biological. So biological processes appear to be very unlikely as the energy source. that is the big riddle, where is the heat coming from? (by the way, you didn't mention C2H4)
When i see resolution that shows a small impact crater in the wall of an impact crater i find both the science and the imagery very exciting. (near the "top" of the image if you didn't spot it yourself) please forgive me if my spelling is bad.