CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Sector 6

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Bizarre Temperatures on Mimas
04-01-2010  17:16:27

I totally agree with Red_Dragon. Cassini has been roaming around Saturn for years and is still making astounding discoveries. The Soltice mission is a must unless, cf course, the Pac-Man does not eat Cassini - ha ha! The triangular division is not really that straight since it is projected on a spherical surface. I find it amazing that the thermal gradient is so sharp; 20+ degrees in only a matter of 10s of miles. The impact that formed Hershel surely splattered melted ice. This could have resulted in modifying the surface thermal conductivity while filtering back under the surface. The surface appearance may not have changed appreciably. Planetary physics modeling must be a real blast - ha ha!

Complex Edge Waves
09-16-2009  17:10:01

So very COOL! Wouldn't it be interesting to actually stand on Daphnis and see this "gravitational drag" in person?... This would make a great scene in Star Trek although it would probably be so bizarre as to confound the audience.

At Last ... 'Star Trek' Opens!
05-19-2009  17:38:46

What an awesome ride! Although the sound was too high, I highly recommend the IMAX version. Cool storyline and nice twist to the further development of otherwise well known characters. I have been a lifelong fan of science fiction, but have also been critical of the ever-present mistakes in science fact. But, as I age, I am much more forgiving with the visuals and breaks with reality. A few comments (these are for fun by the way):
1. Why does breaking the light barrier make an acoustic "bang" in space?
2. If they needed a magnetic field to hide in, why were they not under the cloud deck of Jupiter?
3. I guess spaceships in the 24th century have paint and surfaces immune to the nasty chemistry of Titan. My flying saucer would need a good buffing after that.
4. Yes, Titan is too far above the ecliptic, but a really long telephoto lens from long distance would yield the apparent proximity of the rings. And what was with the hurricane force winds that caused Titan's upper atmosphere to have those waves?
5. Why was the black hole generated by the red matter 2 dimensional?
6. The "Last Star Fighter" had more realistic transitions through light speed. At least the streaks from the earlier films were gone.
7. Darwin would cringe if he saw a red spidery crab critter with no fur climbing out of a cave on an ice planet.
8. At least nobody without space suits were climbing around the outside of the ship like they did in Disney's "Black Hole".
9. What's with all the swirly lights in the Transporter scenes? This is where they need a bang or a nice "Galaxy Quest" splat!
10. Why do bad guy space ships need a lot of extraneous metal stuff? I guess Romulans have an affinity for spaceships that look like spiky cock roaches on steroids.
11. Young Spock and old Spock meeting at the end is cool. Time paradox issues avoided. Now if they had just crossed the streams in "Ghostbusters" earlier.

It would really be nice one day for a film to stay accurate with the physics except for those necessary to advance the story. PS, I want one of those floating motorcycles like the patrolman had. Too bad about that Corvette.

Busy Moon
03-06-2009  14:53:35

With Prometheus converging on the ring, I presume some of the ring material is accumulating on the surface. I wonder if larger or smaller particles stay attached to Prometheus? Wouldn't it be great to have a shovel full for a quick analysis in JSC's lunar dirt lab?

Tiny Moonlet Within G Ring Arc
03-06-2009  14:02:30

As the computer geeks say "There are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't." :^)) A corollary implies that some people, astronomers too, must categorize/organize "things" and others that are happy with multiple dimensions of diversity. Evidently since 1919, the IAU has the authority to name everything in space. In 2006, they did a poor job of gerrymandering the planetary definition and Pluto's status. The continuing debate and frequent acrimony has made a mockery of the process. I really would hate to see them try defining "moon". By just looking at the diversity of only Saturn's "moons", how could anyone generate a concise clean definition and/or list of object classes? Obviously a "body" such as S/2008-S1 and Charon are different. But, are Charon, Titan, Triton, Phobos and the Moon going to be "moons"? Will Charon get axed because it orbits a dwarf whatever? In my humble view, mankind is barely scratching the surface of planetary exploration. We are still cataloging objects in our own planetary system. It has been only the last decade when we discovered the existence of objects around other stars. Isn't it a little early to be forcing categories? I am sure there is value in being the discoverer of a moon over a moonlet; planet over dwarf planet. Being a layman, I don't have "a dog in that hunt". History books aside, clinging to hard definitions and the insuing debates do not add to the body of scientific knowledge. I think it is wonderful every time we find something new and different. Why can't we spend our time and resources discovering the nature of these objects; not forcing them into "boxes". Is S1/2008-S1 a rubble pile? I would be excited to find out what is inside that caused the agglomeration. Could it be a NiFe "rock" that was captured by Saturn eons ago? Is S1/2008-S1 eroding to form the G-ring or is it causing the G-ring to diffuse? I hope I have not offended anyone. Sorry for the diatribe.

Propeller Swarm
11-14-2008  13:13:32

Speaking of moonlets, has anyone clarifed a definition of moonlet? With the IAU's penchant for definitions, I would expect there to be a debate about what is a moonlet and what makes a moon different. I don't mean to be divisive, but I assume that it is a topic. I would assume the Cassini team would have an important influence on the IAU's opinion. If it is rule based, is it similar to planet and dwarf planet? A moonlet has not cleared it's orbital path or something along those lines?

Dance of the Clouds
10-03-2008  16:58:04

Sorry, a little more: Using my simplistic techniques (ruler held to my computer screen and a few calculations based on the camera's square 1024 pixel array - laugh if you want), the vortex in the upper right-hand side of the image is a little less than half the size of our Moon. Seeing this in person would have made me dizzy.
10-03-2008  16:31:29

I continue to be amazed by the sense of scale. Even though the wide angle camera is not really "wide angle" in the same sense as a modern SLR, Saturn still looks overwhelmingly large viewed from ~80,000 km farther than the Moon is to the Earth. My head has a hard time grasping Saturn's reality.

The Ringsmith
05-30-2008  18:14:35

Carolyn, Awesome film clip of Prometheus "perturbing" the F ring. I understand more now. I suppose the diffuse inner radius of the F ring could be from the periodic interactions with Prometheus. The slight eccentric orbit keeps the F ring from being having a more well defined inner radius. Thanks so much for the explanation.
05-29-2008  18:54:13

Pictures like this confirm how little I understand about the gravitational/angular momentum balance that the rings represent. How can the inner strand of the F-ring shown keep from being disbursed by Prometheus? I presume these interactions are being modeled. Are there any papers published that explain how this happens? I enjoy a good set of equations probably more than most. But, if there are any, an intuitive explanatory paper that a layman such as myself could understand would be appreciated. My mind's "gut" does not understand how the strand shown does not eventually get disbursed by Prometheus. I presume the "rope loops" follow Prometheus radially like a tide. If so, why is there another loop behind Prometheus? Are they not in the same orbital plane? Ring coherence is a fact clearly established by the photo. With such extreme disturbance, it seem probable that collisions in the strand would eventually disburse the strand yet it does not; a mystery. Why does the asteroid belt not show the same behavior? Mars and Jupiter should create resonances there too. Maybe it does and I am naive. More photos and more questions... It is just great.

Moons on the Move
04-24-2008  15:32:04

Being very visual myself, I concur with your imagined view of one of the rocky inner planets in the place of Titan. Earth is only 2.5X larger in diameter and, of course, Mercury would even appear smaller.

This brings-up the old discussion of definitions of the terms "planet", "dwarf planet" and "moon". Physically, Titan, a moon, is more analogous to Earth or Venus, planets. Titan is definitely more similar to Earth than Earth is to Saturn. Of course, we all (at least most will agree ;^)) acknowledge that how the body fits in the solar system differentiates moons, planets and dwarf plants. The analogy makes me shake my head in wonder though.

Such a broad variance of entities within the classifications of galaxies, stars, planets, moons, etc. Never a dull moment out there. There is so much room for your imagination to wander yet still be within the realm of possibilities. It makes you wonder what we will find next....

Again, thanks to all of you engaged in trying to make sense of all this!

Jet Spots in Tiger Stripes
03-27-2008  17:34:59

I expect that there will be a lot of post processing done on these overlapped infrared and visual images. Can you provide any rough idea of the differences in the spacial resolution of the infrared image with respect to the visual image? I presume that the region of higher surface temperature is wider than the visual "tiger strip" feature. Other than heat transfer of the vented material coming from the "tiger strip", the rest of the heat signature must come from thermal conduction of the surface "ice". I hope someone is modeling this heat transfer equation to formulate ideas of how deep "tiger strip" fissures are and possibly the ambient temperature of the subsurface heat source.

Again, great work! I am sure that interpretations of these features will take years to produce. Patience is a virtue that is a struggle to master. Harry from Houston.

The North Polar Region of Enceladus
03-14-2008  10:35:29

Thanks for the heads-up! I should spend more time reading the captions and less time staring at the images. As you suggest, sometime in the dim past the slumped crater curvatures suggests the region was warmer. How warm and how long ago would be great issues to study. The interior prominences may also be Enceladus versions of Eratosthenes & Tycho (craters w/central peaks) on the Moon.

An interesting postulate to test would be if the interior & surface are or have been differentiated sort-of like the crust and core of Earth with a "greasy" mantel allowing relative movement. If so, why is the south still active and the north frozen? What would drive the movement - gravitational tidal forces generated by the orbit? Who knows and what instruments could the next generation of scientists send to Enceladus to extract answers?

Again, thanks for the opportunity to comment and congratuatlions on Cassini team's successes! Harry from Houston
03-14-2008  09:04:21

Such an awesome image! I expect there will be many papers written on the interpretations of this terrain.

I wonder if the prominences in Aladdin & Ali Baba are extinct geysers. Infra red imaging showing the extent of the southern hot zone would be wonderful.

The "faults" of the Samarkand Sulci perimeter seem to be gapped. Quasi-parallel extension zones implies that the center may be a subduction zone. Hopefully the radar imaging might provide some elevation details of the region to help interpret what is happening. Obviously, the internal sturcture of Enceladus must be differentiated.

So many new and wonderful concepts to test. It is hard to imagine: Sector 6 containing moons so different as Hyperion, Titan and Enceladus along with the rings all around the same planet. Anyone thinking these moons are simple structures with a boring history needs to get a cup of coffee!

Congratulations again on such wonderful science. Harry in Houston

Enceladus '61EN' Flyby Raw Preview #4
03-13-2008  12:01:07

This image is amazing! I know it is way too early for interpretations of the geologic features shown but, I can't help myself. Besides, what do I know about what water ice(?) is going to do at 0 atmospheres and extremely low temperatures/gravity.

Presuming that there is a subsurface liquid region, the two craters near the image center look as if they might be meteor craters that punched a hole deep enough to stimulate geysers.

There seems to be a fault extending over the limb at right center of the image. That could be an extension zone in the brittle surface ice. If so, what differentiates it from the curved "cracks" at the top of the image? Is is location, proximity to the thermal hot zones or could it be tectonic movement smoothing the fault fault lines on top?

So many questions from just one camera image! The other insturments will need to provide data for proper interpretation. I will have to wait as patiently as I can for the expert interpretations that will be forthcoming in the months (& years)to come.

Thanks so much and congratualtions! Harry in Houston

Cosmic Blasting Zone
02-15-2008  16:28:54

Of all the Cassini images, this is the one I keep coming back too. Somehow, I wonder if Hyperion is a not a normal (whatever that is) cratered moon but, it is a burned-out comet. The density of craters seem to put Hyperion out of place. Hyperion has preserved evidence of many more craters that other bodies in the region. Maybe it is much older or from a differnt part of the solar system closely resembling a shooting gallery.

I wonder if Hyperion is actually a comet that was captured by Saturn. The craters might actually be vents from when the comet was active. The steep, straight sides of the craters/vents might be determined by the angle of repose of the ejecta material coming from the vent that did not attain escape velocity. Or, maybe the geometry of the vents is normal as they slow-down and freeze after an active cycle. The dark material in the bottom of the "vents" might be carbon-rich material from the interior of the comet. Also, the dark material could have higher density than the volatiles that escaped the vent or be higher mass "pebbles" that accumulated at the bottom of the vent.

Hyperion has so low a density as to suggest that it is porous. The interior cavities may be the voids left by the volatiles that escaped the body while it was active during passes through the inner solar system. These residual cavities might not have collapsed as the comet evolved. They may have collapsed later when the interior was shocked by a metor impact. Hyperion's irregular shape may be determined by the later cave-ins. The morphology of the cave-ins might correlate to how the volatiles had accumulated during the genesis of the body that is now Hyperion.

If Hyperion is the nucleus of an old comet, Saturn may have caught it while it was still active from a pass by the sun. If it was still venting while in orbit, it could be a source of the material in Saturn's rings.

Anyway, this is a lot of conjecture. A hand-full of pictures and a few scientific measurements have generated a myriad of question. I think this is wonderful.