NASA Saturn Mission Prepares for ‘Ring-Grazing Orbits’
First Phase in Dramatic Endgame for Long-Lived Cassini Spacecraft
A thrilling ride is about to begin for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Engineers have been pumping up the spacecraft’s orbit around Saturn this year to increase its tilt with respect to the planet’s equator and rings.
And on Nov. 30, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission’s dramatic endgame.
Launched in 1997, Cassini has been touring the Saturn system since arriving there in 2004 for an up-close study of the planet, its rings and moons. During its journey, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean within Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Titan.
Between Nov. 30 and April 22, Cassini will circle high over and under the poles of Saturn, diving every seven days – a total of 20 times – through the unexplored region at the outer edge of the main rings.
“We’re calling this phase of the mission Cassini’s Ring-Grazing Orbits, because we’ll be skimming past the outer edge of the rings,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “In addition, we have two instruments that can sample particles and gases as we cross the ringplane, so in a sense Cassini is also 'grazing’ on the rings.”
On many of these passes, Cassini’s instruments will attempt to directly sample ring particles and molecules of faint gases that are found close to the rings. During the first two orbits, the spacecraft will pass directly through an extremely faint ring produced by tiny meteors striking the two small moons Janus and Epimetheus. Ring crossings in March and April will send the spacecraft through the dusty outer reaches of the F ring.
“Even though we’re flying closer to the F ring than we ever have, we’ll still be more than 4,850 miles (7,800 kilometers) distant. There’s very little concern over dust hazard at that range,” said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL.
The F ring marks the outer boundary of the main ring system; Saturn has several other, much fainter rings that lie farther from the planet. The F ring is complex and constantly changing: Cassini images have shown structures like bright streamers, wispy filaments and dark channels that appear and develop over mere hours. The ring is also quite narrow – only about 500 miles (800 kilometers) wide. At its core is a denser region about 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide.
So Many Sights to See
Cassini’s ring-grazing orbits offer unprecedented opportunities to observe the menagerie of small moons that orbit in or near the edges of the rings, including best-ever looks at the moons Pandora, Atlas, Pan and Daphnis.
Grazing the edges of the rings also will provide some of the closest-ever studies of the outer portions of Saturn’s main rings (the A, B and F rings). Some of Cassini’s views will have a level of detail not seen since the spacecraft glided just above them during its arrival in 2004. The mission will begin imaging the rings in December along their entire width, resolving details smaller than 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) per pixel and building up Cassini’s highest-quality complete scan of the rings’ intricate structure.
The mission will continue investigating small-scale features in the A ring called “propellers,” which reveal the presence of unseen moonlets. Because of their airplane propeller-like shapes, scientists have given some of the more persistent features informal names inspired by famous aviators, including “Earhart.” Observing propellers at high resolution will likely reveal new details about their origin and structure.
And in March, while coasting through Saturn’s shadow, Cassini will observe the rings backlit by the sun, in the hope of catching clouds of dust ejected by meteor impacts.
Preparing for the Finale
During these orbits, Cassini will pass as close as about 56,000 miles (90,000 kilometers) above Saturn’s cloud tops. But even with all their exciting science, these orbits are merely a prelude to the planet-grazing passes that lie ahead. In April 2017, the spacecraft will begin its Grand Finale phase.
After nearly 20 years in space, the mission is drawing near its end because the spacecraft is running low on fuel. The Cassini team carefully designed the finale to conduct an extraordinary science investigation before sending the spacecraft into Saturn to protect its potentially habitable moons.
During its grand finale, Cassini will pass as close as 1,012 miles (1,628 kilometers) above the clouds as it dives repeatedly through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings, before making its mission-ending plunge into the planet’s atmosphere on Sept. 15. But before the spacecraft can leap over the rings to begin its finale, some preparatory work remains.
To begin with, Cassini is scheduled to perform a brief burn of its main engine during the first super-close approach to the rings on Dec. 4. This maneuver is important for fine-tuning the orbit and setting the correct course to enable the remainder of the mission.
“This will be the 183rd and last currently planned firing of our main engine. Although we could still decide to use the engine again, the plan is to complete the remaining maneuvers using thrusters,” said Maize.
To further prepare, Cassini will observe Saturn’s atmosphere during the ring-grazing phase of the mission to more precisely determine how far it extends above the planet. Scientists have observed Saturn’s outermost atmosphere to expand and contract slightly with the seasons since Cassini’s arrival. Given this variability, the forthcoming data will be important for helping mission engineers determine how close they can safely fly the spacecraft.
There’s a lot of neat parallels between the Mustafar duel and the Starkiller base duel, but I think my favorite one is that neither Anakin nor Rey are even remotely dressed for their respective planets’ climates.
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there being an AU for The Lunar Chronicles where Channary is queen and
Cinder/Selene grew up a “normal” royal life in Artemisia because Levana did not
envy anyone for the throne. Lunars and Earthens are indifferent to each other,
everyone staying on their respective planet. There is no letumosis, shells are
not being treated differently than the Lunars who are capable of using glamour and
there are no wolf soldiers. Let’s see how our main characters would be doing
(or rather, Selene) would be loved by the people of Luna, Channary is actually
very soft to her daughter, Selene and Winter have always been friends who could
rely on each other and most importantly she did not spend her entire childhood
unconscious in a suspension tank and was not turned into a cyborg afterwards –
but Selene and Kai would have only met briefly during political meetings when
they were younger, Selene would not know how interested in mechanics she
actually is, she would have never met Peony or Iko or her other friends (and
like Thorne expressed it: “She wouldn’t be the cuddly cyborg” who we love so
would have still been adored by entire Earth but all the leadership
responsibilities are not given to him since his father is managing everything
while Kai is being cared for – but like mentioned above he would not be able to
develop romantic feelings for Selene and eventually marries a random girl from
the Eastern Commonwealth just to please publicity. Also Kai changed many things
to the better throughout the series – proving what a great and careful Emperor
he is while in that universe he is mostly just there so girls (and boys) from
anywhere could geek over him.
would have lived with her grand-meré for quite some years. After Michelle’s
death (which probably takes place way later than in the series) Scarlet took
over the farm – but she would have never met Wolf, never married anyone or got
children because she never got any chance to meet Wolf.
would just be Ze’ev, a boy in the outer mining sectors of Luna. Living with his
parents and Ren, no surgeries that try to reduce him to something animalish
were done to him and he was not forced to get used to constant violence at such
a young age – but his life would have been pretty plain and hopeless. Working
in the mines is basically the only opportunity he has and obviously he does not
even know his Alpha Female is somewhere on Earth.
would have grown up with two loving parents in the big and bright city of
Artemisia. Given the occupation of her parents she presumably would have gotten
a decent job in sciences/medicine – but she would have never discovered her
amazing computer skills / interest in engineering. And most importantly: Cress
would have never gotten the chance to visit bunch of new places. Living on
Luna, Artemisia is the only interest place to see and when you grew up there it
certainly lost its spark a bit.
would probably wander from one prison to another – as soon as he is a free man
there is yet another trial on another continent going on against him. Certainly
Thorne would not mind his position as one of Earth’s most famous criminals; in
fact he enjoys the attention – but he would have never gotten any chance to
meet his friends or to fly a spaceship again. The chance of learning that life
is more than having fun for a short time and then being locked away again for
would have grown up with a caring and loving family that fully supported her
choice to never use her gift. Plus she not only had Jacin as her best friend
but also Selene whom she could approach with things she could not talk about
with Jacin – but the Lunar sickness would eventually control over her and there
is no possible way to cure it since Garan did not Lunar test probands for his
would have been able to fulfill his childhood dream to become a doctor. Though
working your own way up in that career is hard, Jacin loves that challenge and
probably does very well because he just loves his job and longs to see Winter
again – but as soon as Jacin got a job in Artemisia he learns that the Lunar
sickness eventually was stronger than Winter and possibly drove her into
suicide. After that Jacin cannot go on normally anymore, feeling like he failed
on saving Winter.
life would have been not positive at all. It could be very likely that her
personality chip eventually got destroyed because nobody wants an Android with
probs to you Levana for being such a great villain and fucking everyone’s
Wherein TV’s Frank, dressed as a chauffer, sings a tribute to Bela Lugosi’s chauffer/henchman Monk in The Phantom Creeps. In the background, patiently tolerant, Dr. Forrester reads a newspaper.
♪ If chauffeurs ruled the world It’s what i’d like to see ‘Cause everyone in the world would take a backseat to me ♫
♫ I wouldn’t have to drive I wouldn’t have to steer ‘Cause all would bow down before me in total abject fear ♪
♪ All the gorgeous babes would worship at my feet Why, I could have any one of them i want even Meryl Streep ♫
♫ I have complete respect for everyone on the planet Including intellectuals, even David Mamet ♪
♫ Tell me, why do i have to take orders from this guy? I’d like to drop him in a bucket of boiling grease and watch him slowly die ♪
♪ If chauffeurs ruled the world It’s what I’d like to see ‘Cause everyone in the world would take a backseat to me ♫
(sobbing) ♫ If chauffeurs ruled the world It’s what I’d like to see But, I guess some other palooka will rule the world No, not me… ♪
Apparently, Frank’s extensive electrical torture this week was insufficient to deter his insubordination. With Frank overcome by his own emotions, Clayton is once again forced to push the button himself. Also, we note with some delight Dr. Forrester’s sarcastic exhortation: “Push the button, Judy Garland.”
i literally fucking hate homestuck because since the first fucking pesterlog it’s been teasing all of them meeting up, when they were running around their respective planets it was teasing all four of them meeting up, when they were split up on the ship and the meteor it was teasing all four of them meeting up, since all of act 6 it was teasing all four of them meeting up and they NEVER. DID.
we never got a fucking reunion page with actual dialogue focused on the four beta kids meeting up and hugging and meeting each other in real life. we got them talking on a person to person level but since jade was asleep we never actually got that beta kids reunion. it’s 10,000 pages and no fucking reunion even though that was the goal since like act 1. jade hasnt talked to rose since rose went grimdark. thats the only fucking thing id need in an epilogue is just the 4 original kids talking and hugging and crying. i need a fucking epilogue i know its been like 155 years since homestuck ended but im still so mad
Just holding hands the entire time they’re visiting an alien planet but refusing to call it a date
“Fancy dinner” where Hulk is the chef and Pidge is the waiter, and both of them are a blushing mess but they secretly love it
Going stargazing and making up new names for alien constellations
A quiet picnic alone away from the others where they can just relax and be themselves
Sparring match that quickly turns more heated
Serving each other breakfast in bed
Picking flowers and making flower crowns for each other
Candlelit dinner on an alien planet - Allura does the ordering
A casual stroll through the castle where they talk about their respective planets and their histories and make each other laugh with funny stories
Shiro tries to be a traditional gentleman but it turns out Altean and Human traditional dates are kind of similar but swapped and the two spend an entire date trying to open doors and pull out chairs for each other and it becomes a competition until they manage to run into a door together trying to get to it first so they can open it for the other person and then they’re just laughing and having a good time
the capricorn woman wants it all. she wants to succeed professionally, academically, and be the admired, efficient mother who holds the family together. capricorn is very grounded in reality, so she is well aware of the difficulty she is confronting. she doesn’t want to miss a thing, and she doesn’t want to leave anything incomplete or seemingly unsuccessful. she wants to work, learn, and experience the sentimentality and simple pleasures of life. she wants to provide, model herself from her greatest ideals, and leave a respected legacy. saturn is the planet of social standing and public prestige, so the capricorn individual is quite capable of attaining what is deemed to be the ultimate dream
I stopped making Super Sentai OCs ever since I was 11 but ya know
Kyuranger hyped me up into making an Aquarius themed Kyuranger
Her ranger name is Akuariumu Indigo.
Her real name is Neptune, and she was a high commanding robot on her own respective water based planet for Jack Matter. However, after receiving her Kyutama, she began to doubt the mighty empire that she was built for.
At first Neptune was going to report the Kyutama to her commander, but then she thought it try would think of her as a double agent or something worse and then get terminated.
Nonetheless, it was when an Aquamarine (the native species of the planet) called for help, and she helped them that she started to wonder why was it that the Kyutama chosen her.
Neptune is a strict soldier that is a perfectionist and can’t stand things that don’t make sense to her. Even after defecting the Jack Matter and later started helping out the resistance on some information regarding the Jack Matter, she still doesn’t comprehend some things. Why do you help the random kid that had such a useless want? Why waste time on such trivial things? She gets stressed easily if things don’t go the way they should, and would even panic at the most extreme of times.
Not the violence, not the hate, not the racism, not the sexism, not the homophobia, not the oppression, not the slaughter, not the cruelty, not the exploitation, not the speciesism, not the materialism, not the wastefulness.
Only peace, respect, and love for the planet and its inhabitants.