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Pretty pictures & movies: Eye candy from two recent Cassini Enceladus flybys

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/20 12:35 CDT

Cassini has completed two very close flybys of Enceladus in less than three weeks, one of them just this morning, and the images from that encounter have already arrived on Earth.

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Brief notes from Day 2 of the DPS-EPSC meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/04 11:18 CDT

It's been a very full day at the DPS-EPSC 2011 joint meeting. My day was less full than it might have been, because I overslept and missed most of the morning's session. I really needed the rest though so I think it was probably for the best!

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Pretty pictures: Dancing moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/28 12:28 CDT

Since Cassini currently orbits Saturn within the plane of Saturn's rings, it has lots of chances to catch two or more moons in the same photo. One such "mutual event" happened on September 17, featuring four moons: Titan, Dione, Pan, and Pandora.

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Scale solar system presentation slide, a provisional version for you to review

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/15 02:18 CDT

I'm preparing a talk for the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show here in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon at 1:45. I have spent the morning putting together a slide that I have long wanted to have for presentations.

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New Horizons Day 2: Liquids on Pluto's surface?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/13 01:27 CDT

Jeff Moore's presentation was cool because of the discussion it stimulated. He considered what exogenic processes might be operating on Pluto's surface. What's an exogenic process? It's something that modifies the shape of the surface from the outside, and doesn't require the body to be geologically active inside.

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Titan crater and programming note

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/02 11:58 CDT

The summer is winding to a close but it's not quite over for me -- by which I mean my children -- yet.

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Cassini animations: Rhea and Dione and Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/28 04:12 CDT

I've been mucking about in the Cassini data archives (as I often do when procrastinating) and unearthed a neat, if short, mutual event sequence of two crescent moons passing by each other.

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Tantalizing photos of Titan, Dione, Tethys, and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/23 02:23 CDT

It figures. I just start a three-week trip, with my only computer a diminutive Netbook, and guess what's just been radioed across the 1.3 billion kilometers separating us and Saturn? A set of photos that should become -- when properly processed -- an iconic image from Cassini's fourteen-year mission to the Saturn system.

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Titan's lack of lightning

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/19 12:27 CDT

It's a fact of life in science that not all of your hypotheses will turn out to be correct (or even verifiable at all). But there's a bias toward the publication of positive results -- the discovery of this, or the proof of that.

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Are there more Titans than Earths in the Milky Way?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/14 11:30 CDT

Might there be many Titan-like planets and moons, with atmospheres and liquid methane rain, rivers, and lakes, across the galaxy? It's an important question if you think that liquid methane environments could support alien life, because it turns out that Titan-like planets might be more common than Earth-like planets.

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Lots of great stuff in the latest Cassini data release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/13 04:56 CDT

I've got some lovely pictures from Saturn to show you! Every three months, the Cassini mission dumps gigabytes worth of precious Saturn data into the Planetary Data System, and the latest gift came on April 1. This particular pile of data, which was taken between April 1 and June 30, 2010, contains a lot of really terrific moon observations.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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Evidence for rain on Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/22 04:40 CDT

Last week, Zibi Turtle and Jason Perry and a dozen other coauthors published a paper in Science discussing evidence for rain on Titan.

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Mercury: a moon-scale body

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/17 06:15 CDT

As I wait for the MESSENGER Mercury Orbit Insertion webcast to start, I thought I'd fiddle with some images to point out that Mercury is a bridge between the scales of planets and the scales of moons.

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LPSC 2011: Wanted: Pioneer 10 & 11 digital data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/11 01:39 CST

This is both a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) update and a public service announcement. Ted Stryk has been working for years to locate the original Pioneer 10 and 11 image data from the Jupiter and Saturn encounters.

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Decoding a Titan crater

Posted by Emily Martin on 2010/08/16 01:42 CDT

In response to Emily's entry about finally getting her hands on a subscription to the planetary science journal Icarus, I thought I would report on an article from the most recent issue: Geology of the Selk crater region on Titan from Cassini VIMS observations, by Jason Soderblom and 11 other scientists.

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Radar glories in Titan rivers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/11 04:53 CDT

Wow, this is a cool paper. Here's the gist: the Cassini RADAR team has spotted some river channels on Titan that shine so brightly in radar images, there must be something special going on to explain that brightness.

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Titan and Dione: The same, but different

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/22 05:29 CDT

Here's a new lovely color composition of Titan and Dione captured by Cassini. This one was taken on April 20, 2010; a set of 15 raw images taken of the two moons just showed up on the Cassini raw images website.

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A calming Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/19 03:35 CDT

Usually I like Mondays, but today I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I look at pictures from Cassini.

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Cassini VIMS sees the long-awaited glint off a Titan lake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/17 04:28 CST

The Cassini mission announced today the first observation of a specular reflection off of a lake on Titan. A specular reflection is a mirror-like flash, and you only get one when you have a mirror-like surface -- very, very smooth.

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