The Saturn system reveals tantalizing vistas. NASA’s robotic spacecraft named Cassini carries with it 12 instruments designed to take precise measurements of Saturn and its surroundings, including Titan, other icy moons, and the rings, as well as the magnetic environment.
For many of us, however, the images are what put us there, at Saturn, almost a billion miles away from home. Some of those images unveil overwhelming beauty. Others show tricks of light and seemingly magical oddities. Some reveal events from the distant past that have been preserved for eons, while other views depict processes that are changing now, like live news.
ESA’s Rosetta team create history. So much could have gone wrong in those 10 long years. If the rest of mission goes as planned then it will become the first spacecraft to orbit a comet on its journey around the sun, and in November 2014 mission controllers will look to place the Philae robotic lander on the surface of the comet, another first.
Today’s milestone is just the beginning in many ways.
To avoid any confusion, the little spaceship seen in each frame is irrelevant to the message. I believe the original designer put them there to help establish how much light the sun generates on each planet. (Each comparison was based on the approximate apparent visual magnitude of the sun for each planet)
We are stardust, made of the stuff of dying suns. NASA simulates our basic building blocks. Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California have developed a way of recreating the dust and gas found around dying red giant stars that eventually become planet-forming interstellar dust.: http://www.gizmag.com/interstellar-dust-planet-formation-nasa/31957/
This is such a fascinating research project. Who knew we could gleam such fascinating insights from humble dust grains?
Right now NASA — still arguably the leader in space exploration among world agencies — receives a little over 0.4 percent of every U.S. tax dollar. Less than half a penny. That’s what NASA explores the Solar System with, what makes our knowledge of the Universe — from the farthest visible reaches right down to our own planet Earth — even possible. What if NASA were to receive a full one percent? A whole penny from every dollar? That’d still be only a quarter of what NASA worked with to put men on the Moon in 1969, but it’d be more than double what it gets now.
Thank you NASA. I’m glad you’re up there looking out for all of us, whether its Cassini gazing back from Saturn at our pale blue dot, or the fleet of Earth-observing satellites that help us learn more about our one and only home.
Such a great video. I bet this will inspire a few kids to take up science as a career.
When designing the Shuttle program, NASA was looking for a word to signify reliability, cost savings and re-usability. The noun shuttle entered English first, in the mid-14th century to signify a weaving tool, from Old English scytel meaning a dart or arrow. A hundred years later the verb shuttle arrived meaning to move back and forth quickly or to move rapidly to and fro, no doubt taken from the speedy action of the shuttle in use during weaving. It did not acquire the modern sense of to move via a shuttle service until the advent of buses and public transportation. NASA began using the word around 1969 as they began working on the Shuttle program. Interestingly, the word rocket also derives from weaving: the word rocket entered English in 1610 from the Italian word rocchetto, meaning a bobbin or spool head. The Italian root probably derived from a Germanic root such as rocko with the same meaning. The word was first used in English to describe a device propelled by a rocket engine in 1919.