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What's Up in the Solar System in September 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/31 04:17 CDT | 4 comments

It's an active time in interplanetary exploration! Curiosity has begun roving Mars, and Opportunity's not wasting any time either. Dawn has just departed Vesta and begun the more than two-year cruise to Ceres. Juno is in the middle of a big deep-space maneuver, setting up next year's Earth flyby.

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Saturn's still there

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/22 07:01 CDT | 8 comments

A pretty picture of Cassini's current view of Saturn.

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Daphnis cruises through the Keeler Gap

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/16 11:03 CDT

A recent series of ring images by the Cassini spacecraft reveal Saturn's tiny moon Daphnis cruising through the Keeler Gap.

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What's up in the Solar System in August 2012

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/03 06:03 CDT

Welcome to the monthly roundup of our solar system's envoy of electronic explorers! All eyes are on Curiosity as it approaches Mars this weekend. Who will lend support at the Red Planet?

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Pretty picture: Meet Tethys

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/20 02:40 CDT

Just a pretty global view of one of Saturn's flock of icy moons, newly processed from archival data by Gordan Ugarkovic.

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Pretty picture: Halo on a halo?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/15 05:21 CDT | 6 comments

An interesting set of images of Titan that Cassini took recently shows a peculiar cap at Titan's south pole.

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More Venus transits in 2012

Posted by Jay Pasachoff on 2012/06/07 04:44 CDT | 3 comments

A transit of Venus as seen from Jupiter may be observed by Hubble on September 20 and a transit of Venus as seen from Saturn will be observed by Cassini on December 21.

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Video: Saturn makes its own drama (with a little help)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/22 05:43 CDT | 5 comments

The apparently simple device of running Cassini images together like a flipbook makes for a dramatic movie, especially with the help of well-timed musical cues.

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Methone, an egg in Saturn orbit?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/21 02:58 CDT | 8 comments

Cassini obtained its first high-resolution images of Methone on May 20, 2012. Methone is one of the smallest regular moons of Saturn, having a diameter of only about 3 kilometers. It was the first moon that Cassini discovered, very early in Cassini's mission at Saturn, in 2004.

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Pretty pictures from Cassini's recent Dione flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/04 05:44 CDT

Cassini performed its last of three close encounters with Enceladus for 2012 two days ago, and followed the flyby with some spectacular images of Dione.

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Titan, Dead or Alive? A Debate

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/02 10:32 CDT

A lively discussion and debate between planetary polymaths Ralph Lorenz and Jeffrey Moore about Titan, hosted by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, moderated by David Grinspoon.

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Ski Helene?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/20 01:01 CDT | 2 comments

I enthused about these Helene images the first time they came down from Cassini, and then forgot about them, and then was thrilled anew a couple of weeks ago when Daniel Macháček posted his version, processed from data published by the Cassini imaging team on April 1.

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Pretty pictures from Cassini's weekend flybys of Enceladus and Tethys

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/16 03:11 CDT

Cassini flew past both Enceladus and Tethys on April 14. Here's a cool animation of its approach to Enceladus' plumes, and a pretty global picture of Tethys.

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Pretty picture: Janus and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/04 12:15 CDT

In the last few days as it's rounded periapsis in its current orbit of Saturn, Cassini has taken a lot of great photos of Saturn's moons. One series of photos was taken from pretty close to Janus, a moon about a third the diameter of Enceladus that orbits between the F and G rings. And among those, several were taken with the moon sitting in front of Saturn.

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Notes from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference: Making Cassini's radar images prettier

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/26 02:12 CDT

One of the more exciting talks last week was given by Antoine Lucas about his work with Oded Aharonson "denoising" Cassini radar images of Titan. Cassini's radar images are superior to the camera photos in revealing fine details and topography on Titan's surface, but they do suffer from a random noise component that makes the pictures look snowy. Antoine and Oded have developed a method for removing much of this noise.

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Notes from Titan talks at the 2012 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/20 02:16 CDT

One of the topics I found most exciting yesterday was a series of talks on Titan's climate. Bob West showed how Titan's detached haze has shifted with time. Zibi Turtle presented about how Titan's weather has changed with these seasonal changes. Jason Barnes followed up Zibi's talk -- which was based on Cassini camera images -- with a study of the same regions using data from Cassini's imaging spectrometer, trying to figure out what was going on with that brightening. Ralph Lorenz talked about rainfall rates on Titan. Jeff Moore asked: what if Titan hasn't always had a thick atmosphere?

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Pretty picture: A study in ringlight

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/08 02:27 CST

Clearly, this is Saturn, and its rings, and if you look closer you can see a tiny circle, on top of the rings, which is Mimas, and two stars in the background. It should look weird to you that while the rings are bright, Mimas is a black dot. What is happening here? Nearly everything in this picture is lit by light that has not arrived directly from the Sun.

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Iapetus' peerless equatorial ridge

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/22 01:49 CST

A new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets by Dombard, Cheng, McKinnon, and KayI claims to explain how Iapetus' equatorial ridge formed. Cool!

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Pretty picture: Enceladus, in lovely color

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/06 02:38 CST

Here's an awesome picture to start off the week. The data came from Cassini's flyby of Enceladus on January 31, 2011; it was part of Cassini's January 2012 data release.

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Pretty picture: Saturn, a big moon, and a teeny one

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/09 11:23 CST

A recent view from Cassini of Saturn with its largest moon (Titan) and one of its small ringmoons, Prometheus.

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