Cassini’s New Images Of Saturn.

Although Mars and comets have  taken the spotlight recently, we shouldn’t forget the ongoing missions around the second largest planet in the system.

Saturn's Rings Caught Streaking in NASA Photos

The Cassini mission has release some new, and amazing images of Saturn and that glorious ring system it has.

Saturn's Rings Caught Streaking in NASA Photos

By taking photos with the Sun in the correct position and the rings edge on, the shadows on the lower part of Saturn are a magnified version of the rings.  This shows the complexity of the rings and details never seen before.

Saturn's Rings Caught Streaking in NASA Photos

Saturn even has it’s own ‘Great Storm’, although it isn’t nearly as large as neighboring Jupiter’s storm.

In the lower right and left corners of the two images above, you can see two of Saturn’s many, many moons.  Because some are hiding in the rings, it isn’t really known how many moons Saturn has.  Officially, the count is 61, versus 66 for Jupiter.  However, I believe that the moons traveling in the rings would push Saturn ahead of Jupiter.  Alas, many of these ‘moons’ for both gas giants are asteroids and comets caught while passing to close to the gravity wells of each planet.

This doesn't take into account the energy imparted by orbital motion (or gravity assists or the Oberth effect), all of which can make it easier to reach outer planets.

This image, from my favorite geek comic, XKCD, all rights reserved to the author, I am only pointing out how great his stuff is, no infringement is implied…etc., etc., etc (legally falling on my sword)(I’ll take it down if you ask, but hey, its free publicity).  You should really check it out.  But this is the best and simplest explanation of gravity wells without getting into too much math and the general theory of relativity.  If you think Jupiter’s is big you ought to Google the Sun’s or a black hole’s gravity well.  That will blow your mind.

Anyway, back to Saturn.  Cassini has been out orbiting Saturn almost a decade since leaving Earth in 1997.  The spacecraft’s life expectancy is until 2017.  The amount of interesting data from Saturn is unprecedented for a mission this old and as far away as Saturn is from Earth.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

Opening Pandora’s Box With A Death Star.

Two of Saturn’s moons, Mimas and Pandora, were captured together by the Cassini spacecraft.

Pandora is one of the smaller “moons” around Saturn.  It is actually a oblong icy body, although not large enough to form a shpere, it is large enough to have at least two craters 19 miles (30 kilometers) in diameter.  Researchers believe that the elongated shape of Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers across) may hold clues to how it and other moons near Saturn’s rings formed.

Mimas is 246 miles (396 kilometers) across with one very distinctive feature that makes it look like the death star of film legend. This prominent feature is most likely why  Mimas is rotated 28 degrees to the right.

The ongoing Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency and has been regaling us fantastic images and data about Saturn, it rings and moons.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Smile and say cheese.

The Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn, will take a cue from the voyager spacecraft and take a picture of the Earth on July 19.

Like the now famous “Pale Blue Dot” image above, the Earth will appear as a small, pale blue dot between the rings of Saturn.

The image will be taken at a distance of 898 million ([1.44 billion kilometers) away, so it is unlikely that your smile from the back row will be seen.

The Pale Blue Dot image taken by voyager 1 was much farther away at a mere 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from Earth using the Voyager imaging science subsystem’s narrow-angle camera with a 1500 mm focal length.  A camera that is not a good as the cameras aboard Cassini, so hopefully it will be an even more exciting image.

If you believe in the butterfly effect, by joining NASA’s call for everyone to”… join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity.”  You may inadvertently cause a galactic calamity, but I think it is worth the risk.

So everyone start waving wildly starting at 2:27 p.m. PDT (5:27 p.m. EDT or 21:27 UTC) for about 15 minutes.  You can explain to the people staring at you strangely that you are waving at Saturn for a photo-op.  That won’t make you sound crazy at all.  Trust me.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Its raining … rain.

It raining on Saturn.  Since scientists first saw three dark bands on Saturn during the 1980’s flyby of Voyager, there was a theory that the bands were caused by rain.

The bands were not seen again until April 2011, when new observations of Saturn in the near-infrared wavelengths using the W.M Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.

The rain’s effect occurs in Saturn’s ionosphere, where charged particles are produced.  The “rain” of charged water particles falls into Saturn’s atmosphere creating the dark bands.  It turns out that the rings of Saturn, some 36,000 miles overhead, are to blame for the rain.  Because the rings block solar radiation, the water particles become charged and fall back to Saturn.

Well, at least it isn’t raining men…hallelujah.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Biggest, Most Long-lasting Saturnian Storm

Below are images of one of the biggest storms gas giant ringed planet Saturn has ever seen.  The images were captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The new images unveiled by NASA – which it said came as a big surprise – came after its Cassini orbiter captured the lightning storm while orbiting the planet. The bright blue spots on the picture below of the enormous storm, which broke out on the planet last year, shows the powerful lightning.

The huge storm which generated the lightning strike on Saturn can be seen in the top right of this image

The huge storm which generated the lightning strike on Saturn can be seen in the top right of this image. (Photo by NASA)

An incredible view of daytime lightning on Saturn during one of the biggest storms the ringed planet has ever seen has been captured by a NASA spacecraft

An incredible view of daytime lightning on Saturn during one of the biggest storms the ringed planet has ever seen has been captured by a NASA spacecraft. The bright blue spot on this picture shows a powerful lightning strike. (Photo by NASA)
The fact that Cassini was able to detect the lightning means that it was very intense. The spacecraft was observing a giant storm on the planet in March last year when it spotted the lightning. Researchers were able to locate the lightning after a blue filter on the spacecraft’s main camera recorded the flashes. The blue tint was then exaggerated by scientists who could pin down the size and location of the lightning strikes. The researchers found that the lightning strike which the Cassini orbiter recorded was incredibly powerful.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

This series of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the development of the largest storm seen on the planet Saturn since 1990

This series of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the development of the largest storm seen on the planet since 1990. These true-color and composite near-true-color views chronicle the storm from its start in late 2010 through mid-2011, showing how the distinct head of the storm quickly grew large but eventually became engulfed by the storm’s tail.

The earliest image of the storm, taken Dec. 5, 2010, is in the top left of the panel. The storm appears only as a small, white cloud on the terminator between the day side and night side of the planet.

The next view, in the top middle of the panel and taken Jan. 2, 2011, shows that the head quickly grew much larger and a tail began to trail a great distance eastward. Some of the clouds moved south and got caught up in a current that flows to the east (to the right) relative to the storm head. In the top right of the panel, this tail, which appears as slightly blue clouds south and now west (left) of the storm head, can be seen encountering the storm in the Feb. 25 image.

The April 22 image, in the bottom left of the panel, is one of Cassini’s last views of the storm when it still had a recognizable head. In this view, the tail is south of the head and is well established by this time.

The May 18 view, in the bottom middle, shows only the storm’s tail. The head still existed at this time, but it is beyond the horizon and out of the field of view here. (Photo by NASA)

A large, bright and complex convective storm that appeared in Saturn's southern hemisphere in mid-September 2004 was the key in solving a long-standing mystery about the ringed planet

A large, bright and complex convective storm that appeared in Saturn’s southern hemisphere in mid-September 2004 was the key in solving a long-standing mystery about the ringed planet.

Saturn’s atmosphere and its rings are shown here in a false color composite made from Cassini images taken in near infrared light through filters that sense different amounts of methane gas. Portions of the atmosphere with a large abundance of methane above the clouds are red, indicating clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Grey indicates high clouds, and brown indicates clouds at intermediate altitudes. The rings are bright blue because there is no methane gas between the ring particles and the camera.

The complex feature with arms and secondary extensions just above and to the right of center is called the Dragon Storm. It lies in a region of the southern hemisphere referred to as “storm alley” by imaging scientists because of the high level of storm activity observed there by Cassini in the last year. (Photo by NASA)

An artist's view of Cassini releasing the Huygens Probe at Saturn's moon Titan

An artist’s view of Cassini releasing the Huygens Probe at Saturn’s moon Titan.
The energy from the visible flashes of lightning could have spiked about 3 billion watts over a second – equal to some of the strongest and most powerful lightning flashes recorded on Earth.

Scientists said the lightning was recorded across an area 100 miles wide. The spacecraft spotted a total of eight lightning flashes.

The storm which resulted in the powerful lightning strike is the longest-lived storm ever recorded on the planet, beginning in December 2010 and lasting for an incredible 200 days. It ended in late June last year.

At its peak, it wrapped completely around the planet. The Cassini spacecraft was launched by NASA in 1997 and since 2006 has been orbiting Saturn. Its latest mission is expected to last until 2017.

Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said: “Saturn’s atmosphere has been changing over the eight years Cassini has been at Saturn, and we can’t wait to see what happens next”.

One Moon To Rule Them All.

Ever since we first sent spacecraft to Saturn, the information about how and what makes up those beautiful rings has been in the forefront of scientists minds.  It was discovered that the rings are still reflective because the particles in the rings have sharp edges that are continually made new due to collisions with other particles.

That may be wrong.

Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, seen shooting geysers water into space from its south polar region in this mosaic composite photograph.
Image courtesy of Michael Benson from his book “Planetfall: New Solar System Visions.”
More detailed images of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, taken by the Cassini spacecraft show a fountain of water shooting off the moon and into orbit in Saturn’s rings. Enceladus is squeezed and deformed by the huge gravity of Saturn.  Very much like a stress relief ball.  The frozen water on Enceladus is heated and moved and squished, until it erupts from the moon in an icy volcano.
Enceladus making Saturn's E ring.
You can see in the image above that an eruption from Enceladus (the dark spot inside the bright white dot) approaches Saturn’s E ring.  According to Sascha Kempf of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, this moon is “feeding” water crystals into Saturn’s ring.

Previously, we thought that micrometeoroids slammed into Saturn’s moons kicking up dust to form the rings.  This is why we send these probes.  New understanding, new knowledge and the hope for a new day.

If you have invented a new camera or photo development method and need help to patent or copyright your ideas or images, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +