Friday, June 29, 2007

The Saturn Show

Just back from two weeks in Europe and there's a lot to catch up on at the office and at home. I have some interesting things to blog about once I can find some time - maybe this weekend. In the meantime, let me point you to a really nice JPL slide show marking Cassini's three years at Saturn. The picture here compares the size of a radar-imaged lake on Titan (most likely liquid ethane and methane) with our own Lake Superior. That's a lot of rocket fuel!

Cassini happens to be making another planned low pass over Titan today. I grabbed today's orbital state vectors from the JPL Horizons system yesterday and used them in Orbiter to simulate the low pass at an outreach event at my local library last night. I started about 138,000 km out and used a view option (target-to) to keep the camera pointed at Titan through the pass, getting as low as 2000 km above the clouds. Time acceleration makes this pretty dramatic to watch - it looks like a crash is inevitable, but of course that's just the design of the orbit.

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