Tuesday, December 14, 2004

News from Cassini, and space generally

In other news The Cassini spacecraft has made its second close flyby of Titan yesterday, and today has made/is making its first flyby of Saturn's moon Dione. Of particular interest there are some white stripes that appear on the surface. As regards to Titan this is the last chance to inspect the moon before the Huygens release on landing on Christmas Eve / Christmas Day.

Meanwhile let us not forget that both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still out there. On Thursday Voyager 1 will be just over 94AU out - that is 94 times the distance from earth to the sun. Voyager 2 is a "mere" 75AU out - in a completely different trajectory. I wonder how many of the people who actually built those two spacecraft thought that they would still be out there, operating, nearly 30 years after their launch? Or that there is every chance they will go on operating into their 40s - perhaps until the early 2020s? It amazing to think how little we knew about the solar system until those craft made their journey, and it makes one realise just how much there is still for us to know today.

I do hope it is not too long before we send another craft to Jupiter. On the horizon, on January 12th, they hope to launch Deep Impact 1 - which will deploy a probe to hopefully crash into the comet Tempel 1.

Oh, and remember those Mars Rovers? Well, they're still going strong, where one of the things Opportunity contends with is frost.

I love the internet.

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