pole north

Cassini Spacecraft: Top Discoveries

Our Cassini spacecraft has been exploring Saturn, its stunning rings and its strange and beautiful moons for more than a decade.

Having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, operators are deliberately plunging Cassini into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons will remain pristine for future exploration – in particular, the ice-covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, but also Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry.

Let’s take a look back at some of Cassini’s top discoveries:  

Titan

Under its shroud of haze, Saturn’s planet-sized moon Titan hides dunes, mountains of water ice and rivers and seas of liquid methane. Of the hundreds of moons in our solar system, Titan is the only one with a dense atmosphere and large liquid reservoirs on its surface, making it in some ways more like a terrestrial planet.

Both Earth and Titan have nitrogen-dominated atmospheres – over 95% nitrogen in Titan’s case. However, unlike Earth, Titan has very little oxygen; the rest of the atmosphere is mostly methane and traced amounts of other gases, including ethane.

There are three large seas, all located close to the moon’s north pole, surrounded by numerous smaller lakes in the northern hemisphere. Just one large lake has been found in the southern hemisphere.

Enceladus

The moon Enceladus conceals a global ocean of salty liquid water beneath its icy surface. Some of that water even shoots out into space, creating an immense plume!

For decades, scientists didn’t know why Enceladus was the brightest world in the solar system, or how it related to Saturn’s E ring. Cassini found that both the fresh coating on its surface, and icy material in the E ring originate from vents connected to a global subsurface saltwater ocean that might host hydrothermal vents.

With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist.

Iapetus

Saturn’s two-toned moon Iapetus gets its odd coloring from reddish dust in its orbital path that is swept up and lands on the leading face of the moon.

The most unique, and perhaps most remarkable feature discovered on Iapetus in Cassini images is a topographic ridge that coincides almost exactly with the geographic equator. The physical origin of the ridge has yet to be explained…

It is not yet year whether the ridge is a mountain belt that has folded upward, or an extensional crack in the surface through which material from inside Iapetus erupted onto the surface and accumulated locally.

Saturn’s Rings

Saturn’s rings are made of countless particles of ice and dust, which Saturn’s moons push and tug, creating gaps and waves.

Scientists have never before studied the size, temperature, composition and distribution of Saturn’s rings from Saturn obit. Cassini has captured extraordinary ring-moon interactions, observed the lowest ring-temperature ever recorded at Saturn, discovered that the moon Enceladus is the source for Saturn’s E ring, and viewed the rings at equinox when sunlight strikes the rings edge-on, revealing never-before-seen ring features and details.

Cassini also studied features in Saturn’s rings called “spokes,” which can be longer than the diameter of Earth. Scientists think they’re made of thin icy particles that are lifted by an electrostatic charge and only last a few hours.  

Auroras

The powerful magnetic field that permeates Saturn is strange because it lines up with the planet’s poles. But just like Earth’s field, it all creates shimmering auroras.

Auroras on Saturn occur in a process similar to Earth’s northern and southern lights. Particles from the solar wind are channeled by Saturn’s magnetic field toward the planet’s poles, where they interact with electrically charged gas (plasma) in the upper atmosphere and emit light.  

Turbulent Atmosphere

Saturn’s turbulent atmosphere churns with immense storms and a striking, six-sided jet stream near its north pole.

Saturn’s north and south poles are also each beautifully (and violently) decorated by a colossal swirling storm. Cassini got an up-close look at the north polar storm and scientists found that the storm’s eye was about 50 times wider than an Earth hurricane’s eye.

Unlike the Earth hurricanes that are driven by warm ocean waters, Saturn’s polar vortexes aren’t actually hurricanes. They’re hurricane-like though, and even contain lightning. Cassini’s instruments have ‘heard’ lightning ever since entering Saturn orbit in 2004, in the form of radio waves. But it wasn’t until 2009 that Cassini’s cameras captured images of Saturnian lighting for the first time.

Cassini scientists assembled a short video of it, the first video of lightning discharging on a planet other than Earth.

Cassini’s adventure will end soon because it’s almost out of fuel. So to avoid possibly ever contaminating moons like Enceladus or Titan, on Sept. 15 it will intentionally dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft is expected to lose radio contact with Earth within about one to two minutes after beginning its decent into Saturn’s upper atmosphere. But on the way down, before contact is lost, eight of Cassini’s 12 science instruments will be operating! More details on the spacecraft’s final decent can be found HERE.

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Guys My Age (2)

Pairing: Bucky X Reader

Words: 4K

Warnings: SMUT. NSFW gifs. 

Summary: You’re playing truth or dare with the Avengers when Nat asks you when the last time you got laid was  and Sam dares you to pick a song that perfectly grasps why you haven’t had sex in so long.

A/N: Enjoy the smot. And please use protection people. Better safe than surprised. I think this is dirtiest fic I’ve written so far.

Permanent tag list: @meganlane84

Part 1 Part 3

Keep reading

2

I CAN SEE WHY GRELL WOULD WANT THAT!!!!

THE DUDE IS HOT!! 

IF THAT’S WHAT DEATH LOOKS LIKE PLEASE KILL ME!!!!!

DEAR FUCKING HELL KUROSHITSUJI STOP MAKING ALL YOUR BAD GUYS HOT, HOW IN BLOODY CHRISTMAS AM I SUPPOSED TO HATE THEM!!!!!!!!!!

Planets: As Seen by Voyager

The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune before starting their journey toward interstellar space. Here you’ll find some of those images, including “The Pale Blue Dot” – famously described by Carl Sagan – and what are still the only up-close images of Uranus and Neptune.

These twin spacecraft took some of the very first close-up images of these planets and paved the way for future planetary missions to return, like the Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, Cassini at Saturn and New Horizons at Pluto.

Jupiter

Photography of Jupiter began in January 1979, when images of the brightly banded planet already exceeded the best taken from Earth. They took more than 33,000 pictures of Jupiter and its five major satellites. 

Findings:

  • Erupting volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io, which has 100 times the volcanic activity of Earth. 
  • Better understanding of important physical, geological, and atmospheric processes happening in the planet, its satellites and magnetosphere.
  • Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere with dozens of interacting hurricane-like storm systems.

Saturn

The Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. The two encounters increased our knowledge and altered our understanding of Saturn. The extended, close-range observations provided high-resolution data far different from the picture assembled during centuries of Earth-based studies.

Findings:

  • Saturn’s atmosphere is almost entirely hydrogen and helium.
  • Subdued contrasts and color differences on Saturn could be a result of more horizontal mixing or less production of localized colors than in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
  • An indication of an ocean beneath the cracked, icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa. 
  • Winds blow at high speeds in Saturn. Near the equator, the Voyagers measured winds about 1,100 miles an hour.

Uranus

The Voyager 2 spacecraft flew closely past distant Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun. At its closest, the spacecraft came within 50,600 miles of Uranus’s cloud tops on Jan. 24, 1986. Voyager 2 radioed thousands of images and voluminous amounts of other scientific data on the planet, its moons, rings, atmosphere, interior and the magnetic environment surrounding Uranus.

Findings:

  • Revealed complex surfaces indicative of varying geologic pasts.
  • Detected 11 previously unseen moons.
  • Uncovered the fine detail of the previously known rings and two newly detected rings.
  • Showed that the planet’s rate of rotation is 17 hours, 14 minutes.
  • Found that the planet’s magnetic field is both large and unusual.
  • Determined that the temperature of the equatorial region, which receives less sunlight over a Uranian year, is nevertheless about the same as that at the poles.

Neptune

Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to observe the planet Neptune in the summer of 1989. Passing about 3,000 miles above Neptune’s north pole, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to any planet since leaving Earth 12 years ago. Five hours later, Voyager 2 passed about 25,000 miles from Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, the last solid body the spacecraft had the opportunity to study.

Findings: 

  • Discovered Neptune’s Great Dark Spot
  • Found that the planet has strong winds, around 1,000 miles per hour
  • Saw geysers erupting from the polar cap on Neptune’s moon Triton at -390 degrees Fahrenheit

Solar System Portrait

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed ‘Pale Blue Dot’, is a part of the first ever ‘portrait’ of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. 

The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic.

From Voyager’s great distance, Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” - Carl Sagan

Both spacecraft will continue to study ultraviolet sources among the stars, and their fields and particles detectors will continue to search for the boundary between the Sun’s influence and interstellar space. The radioisotope power systems will likely provide enough power for science to continue through 2025, and possibly support engineering data return through the mid-2030s. After that, the two Voyagers will continue to orbit the center of the Milky Way.

Learn more about the Voyager spacecraft HERE.

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Incoming! We’ve Got Science from Jupiter!

Our Juno spacecraft has just released some exciting new science from its first close flyby of Jupiter! 

In case you don’t know, the Juno spacecraft entered orbit around the gas giant on July 4, 2016…about a year ago. Since then, it has been collecting data and images from this unique vantage point.

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, which means that the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But once every 53 days its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a close two-hour transit flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam camera snapping pictures.

Space Fact: The download of six megabytes of data collected during the two-hour transit can take one-and-a-half days!

Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments are helping us get a better understanding of the processes happening on Jupiter. These new results portray the planet as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world that we still need to study and unravel its mysteries.

So what did this first science flyby tell us? Let’s break it down…

1. Tumultuous Cyclones

Juno’s imager, JunoCam, has showed us that both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in tumultuous cyclones and anticyclone storms, densely clustered and rubbing together. Some of these storms as large as Earth!

These storms are still puzzling. We’re still not exactly sure how they formed or how they interact with each other. Future close flybys will help us better understand these mysterious cyclones. 

Seen above, waves of clouds (at 37.8 degrees latitude) dominate this three-dimensional Jovian cloudscape. JunoCam obtained this enhanced-color picture on May 19, 2017, at 5:50 UTC from an altitude of 5,500 miles (8,900 kilometers). Details as small as 4 miles (6 kilometers) across can be identified in this image.

An even closer view of the same image shows small bright high clouds that are about 16 miles (25 kilometers) across and in some areas appear to form “squall lines” (a narrow band of high winds and storms associated with a cold front). On Jupiter, clouds this high are almost certainly comprised of water and/or ammonia ice.

2. Jupiter’s Atmosphere

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer is an instrument that samples the thermal microwave radiation from Jupiter’s atmosphere from the tops of the ammonia clouds to deep within its atmosphere.

Data from this instrument suggest that the ammonia is quite variable and continues to increase as far down as we can see with MWR, which is a few hundred kilometers. In the cut-out image below, orange signifies high ammonia abundance and blue signifies low ammonia abundance. Jupiter appears to have a band around its equator high in ammonia abundance, with a column shown in orange.

Why does this ammonia matter? Well, ammonia is a good tracer of other relatively rare gases and fluids in the atmosphere…like water. Understanding the relative abundances of these materials helps us have a better idea of how and when Jupiter formed in the early solar system.

This instrument has also given us more information about Jupiter’s iconic belts and zones. Data suggest that the belt near Jupiter’s equator penetrates all the way down, while the belts and zones at other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures.

3. Stronger-Than-Expected Magnetic Field

Prior to Juno, it was known that Jupiter had the most intense magnetic field in the solar system…but measurements from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) indicate that the gas giant’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected, and more irregular in shape.

At 7.766 Gauss, it is about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth! What is Gauss? Magnetic field strengths are measured in units called Gauss or Teslas. A magnetic field with a strength of 10,000 Gauss also has a strength of 1 Tesla.  

Juno is giving us a unique view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before. For example, data from the spacecraft (displayed in the graphic above) suggests that the planet’s magnetic field is “lumpy”, meaning its stronger in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action (where the motion of electrically conducting fluid creates a self-sustaining magnetic field) closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Juno’s orbital track is illustrated with the black curve. 

4. Sounds of Jupiter

Juno also observed plasma wave signals from Jupiter’s ionosphere. This movie shows results from Juno’s radio wave detector that were recorded while it passed close to Jupiter. Waves in the plasma (the charged gas) in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter have different frequencies that depend on the types of ions present, and their densities. 

Mapping out these ions in the jovian system helps us understand how the upper atmosphere works including the aurora. Beyond the visual representation of the data, the data have been made into sounds where the frequencies
and playback speed have been shifted to be audible to human ears.

5. Jovian “Southern Lights”

The complexity and richness of Jupiter’s “southern lights” (also known as auroras) are on display in this animation of false-color maps from our Juno spacecraft. Auroras result when energetic electrons from the magnetosphere crash into the molecular hydrogen in the Jovian upper atmosphere. The data for this animation were obtained by Juno’s Ultraviolet Spectrograph. 

During Juno’s next flyby on July 11, the spacecraft will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot! If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno.

Stay updated on all things Juno and Jupiter by following along on social media:
Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Tumblr

Learn more about the Juno spacecraft and its mission at Jupiter HERE.

Avatar The Last Airbender - Koi Fish Spirits - “Tui & La” [in Chinese:
推 & 拉. Tui means: Push. - La means: Pull.]


History
Thousands of years before the Hundred Year War, Tui and La decided to manifest themselves in the physical world to benefit mankind, taking up residence in an alcove in the Northern Water Tribe’s capital city. They created the oasis in the North Pole and took the form of two koi fish. Thus the Spirit Oasis in the city became its most treasured landmark.

Eclipse 2017 From Space

On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse passed over North America. People throughout the continent captured incredible images of this celestial phenomenon. We and our partner agencies had a unique vantage point on the eclipse from space. Here are a few highlights from our fleet of satellites that observe the Sun, the Moon and Earth.

Our Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the Sun nearly 24/7 from its orbit 3,000 miles above Earth, saw a partial eclipse on Aug. 21.

SDO sees the Moon cross in front of the Sun several times a year. However, these lunar transits don’t usually correspond to an eclipse here on Earth, and an eclipse on the ground doesn’t guarantee that SDO will see anything out of the ordinary. In this case, on Aug. 21, SDO did see the Moon briefly pass in front of the Sun at the same time that the Moon’s shadow passed over the eastern United States. From its view in space, SDO only saw 14 percent of the Sun blocked by the Moon, while most U.S. residents saw 60 percent blockage or more.

Six people saw the eclipse from the International Space Station. Viewing the eclipse from orbit were NASA’s Randy Bresnik, Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos’ Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy. The space station crossed the path of the eclipse three times as it orbited above the continental United States at an altitude of 250 miles.

From a million miles out in space, our Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, instrument captured 12 natural color images of the Moon’s shadow crossing over North America. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, where it photographs the full sunlit side of Earth every day, giving it a unique view of the shadow from total solar eclipses. EPIC normally takes about 20 to 22 images of Earth per day, so this animation appears to speed up the progression of the eclipse.

A ground-based image of the total solar eclipse – which looks like a gray ring – is superimposed over a red-toned image of the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. This view of the corona was captured by the European Space Agency and our Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. At center is an orange-toned image of the Sun’s surface as seen by our Solar Dynamics Observatory in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of light.

During a total solar eclipse, ground-based telescopes can observe the lowest part of the solar corona in a way that can’t be done at any other time, as the Sun’s dim corona is normally obscured by the Sun’s bright light. The structure in the ground-based corona image — defined by giant magnetic fields sweeping out from the Sun’s surface — can clearly be seen extending into the outer image from the space-based telescope. The more scientists understand about the lower corona, the more they can understand what causes the constant outward stream of material called the solar wind, as well as occasional giant eruptions called coronal mass ejections.

As millions of Americans watched the total solar eclipse that crossed the continental United States, the international Hinode solar observation satellite captured its own images of the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. The images were taken with Hinode’s X-ray telescope, or XRT, as it flew above the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States, at an altitude of approximately 422 miles. Hinode is a joint endeavor by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the European Space Agency, the United Kingdom Space Agency and NASA.

During the total solar eclipse our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, in orbit around the Moon, turned one of its instruments towards Earth to capture an image of the Moon’s shadow over a large region of the United States.

As LRO crossed the lunar south pole heading north at 3,579 mph, the shadow of the Moon was racing across the United States at 1,500 mph. A few minutes later, LRO began a slow 180-degree turn to look back at Earth, capturing an image of the eclipse very near the location where totality lasted the longest. The spacecraft’s Narrow Angle Camera began scanning Earth at 2:25:30 p.m. EDT and completed the image 18 seconds later.

Sensors on the polar-orbiting Terra and Suomi NPP satellites gathered data and imagery in swaths thousands of miles wide. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, sensor on Terra and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, on Suomi NPP captured the data used to make this animation that alternates between two mosaics. Each mosaic is made with data from different overpasses that was collected at different times.

This full-disk geocolor image from NOAA/NASA’s GOES-16 shows the shadow of the Moon covering a large portion of the northwestern U.S. during the eclipse.

Our Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission captured this view of the Moon passing in front of the Sun on Aug. 21.  

Check out nasa.gov/eclipse to learn more about the Aug. 21, 2017, eclipse along with future eclipses, and follow us on Twitter for more satellite images like these: @NASASun, @NASAMoon, and @NASAEarth.

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ecosystems → arctic tundra

occurs in the far Northern Hemisphere, north of the taiga belt. The word “tundra” usually refers only to the areas where the subsoil is permafrost, or permanently frozen soil. Permafrost tundra includes vast areas of northern Russia and Canada. Arctic tundra contains areas of stark landscape and is frozen for much of the year. 

3

This sequence from NASA’s Juno spacecraft show enhanced images from its last close encounter! The first image is Jupiter’s North Pole, and the last image is the South Pole!

Enjoy the journey around our gas giant!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

It’s the time of year for summer break, swimming, and oh, yes storms. June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season on the Atlantic coast, but we’re not alone. Our neighboring planets have seen their fair share of volatile weather, too (like the Cassini spacecraft’s view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole known as “the hexagon”). 

This week, we present 10 of the solar system’s greatest storms.

1. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

With tumultuous winds peaking at 400 mph, the Great Red Spot has been swirling wildly over Jupiter’s skies for at least 150 years and possibly much longer. People saw a big spot on Jupiter as early as the 1600s when they started stargazing through telescopes, though it’s unclear whether they were looking at a different storm. Today, scientists know the Great Red Spot has been there for a while, but what causes its swirl of reddish hues remains to be discovered. More >

2. Jupiter’s Little Red Spot

Despite its unofficial name, the Little Red Spot is about as wide as Earth. The storm reached its current size when three smaller spots collided and merged in the year 2000. More >

3. Saturn’s Hexagon

The planet’s rings might get most of the glory, but another shape’s been competing for attention: the hexagon. This jet stream is home to a massive hurricane tightly centered on the north pole, with an eye about 50 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Numerous small vortices spin clockwise while the hexagon and hurricane spin counterclockwise. The biggest of these vortices, seen near the lower right corner of the hexagon and appearing whitish, spans about 2,200 miles, approximately twice the size of the largest hurricane on Earth. More>

4. Monster Storm on Saturn 

A tempest erupted in 2010, extending approximately 9,000 miles north-south large enough to eventually eat its own tail before petering out. The storm raged for 200 days, making it the longest-lasting, planet-encircling storm ever seen on Saturn. More >

5. Mars’ Dust Storm 

Better cover your eyes. Dust storms are a frequent guest on the Red Planet, but one dust storm in 2001 larger by far than any seen on Earth raised a cloud of dust that engulfed the entire planet for three months. As the Sun warmed the airborne dust, the upper atmospheric temperature rose by about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. More >

6. Neptune’s Great Dark Spot

Several large, dark spots on Neptune are similar to Jupiter’s hurricane-like storms. The largest spot, named the “Great Dark Spot” by its discoverers, contains a storm big enough for Earth to fit neatly inside. And, it looks to be an anticyclone similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. More >

7. Sun Twister 

Not to be confused with Earth’s tornadoes, a stalk-like prominence rose up above the Sun, then split into about four strands that twisted themselves into a knot and dispersed over a two-hour period. This close-up shows the effect is one of airy gracefulness. More >

8. Titan’s Arrow-shaped Storm 

The storm blew across the equatorial region of Titan, creating large effects in the form of dark and likely “wet” from liquid hydrocarbons areas on the surface of the moon. The part of the storm visible here measures 750 miles in length east-to-west. The wings of the storm that trail off to the northwest and southwest from the easternmost point of the storm are each 930 miles long. More >

9. Geomagnetic Storms

On March 9, 1989, a huge cloud of solar material exploded from the sun, twisting toward Earth. When this cloud of magnetized solar material called a coronal mass ejection reached our planet, it set off a chain of events in near-Earth space that ultimately knocked out an entire power grid area to the Canadian province Quebec for nine hours. More >

10. Super Typhoon Tip

Back on Earth, Typhoon Tip of 1979 remains the biggest storm to ever hit our planet, making landfall in Japan. The tropical cyclone saw sustained winds peak at 190 mph and the diameter of circulation spanned approximately 1,380 miles. Fortunately, we now have plans to better predict future storms on Earth. NASA recently launched a new fleet of hurricane-tracking satellites, known as the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which will use the same GPS technology you and I use in our cars to measure wind speed and ultimately improve how to track and forecast hurricanes. More >

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

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Headcanon that after Andrew has graduated, Neil starts using the word home to mean wherever Andrew is.
It’s mostly fine, people figure it out eventually but it’s a problem when they want to actually know where he is at the moment.

Nicky: neil where r u?

Neil: Home

Nicky: u could literally be at the north pole with andrew and you’d still say home just tell me an address