A colour photo, please
or it did not happen!
NASA's Cassini probe has made its first dive inside Saturn's rings, skimming about 1,900 miles (3,000KM) over the surface of the gas giant's stormy atmosphere. America's space boffins briefly lost contact with their craft during its descent on Wednesday. That's because the dish antenna used to phone home to Earth acted as a …
Cassini's cameras, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), provide far more information than consumer-level digital cameras because they're sensitive to all wavelengths of light between the near-ultraviolet and the near-infrared, a range greater than typical visible-light cameras. Each camera has a variety of colour filters mounted on wheels that select the range of wavelengths, or colour, for the camera to record with each image.
So there is no time to make (false) colour photo's Saturn's surface.
"The probe passed within about 200 miles (300KM) of the innermost ring of Saturn during its trip, at a speed of 77,000MPH (124,000KPH)."
I have relatives that live within that distance and it's too damn close, I tell you! Cassini and I need a little more room for safety, and for science. Although, at that speed, I can get there, visit, and be back in about 2.5/1000th of a second. By my python3 integer maths.
Yep, not bad Steve. I'm old enough to remember the first (admittedly processed) images of Neptune from Voyager 2, as they were released. Un-freaking-believable. Visited all the giant planets, launched in 1977, still working 40 years later, 114 AU away from the Sun. Stunning achievement, right up there with the very best that humanity has managed.
Have a little patience, it could still accidentally wipe out some tiny civilisation eeking out a meagre existence on a single balloon floating in Saturn's turbulent atmosphere. On the balloon a people who finally managed to steer their craft to the higher, more sunlit heights, only to be wiped out by some huge piece of metal hurtling towards the depths the poor Saturnians had so recently escaped. The last thing they heard was this piece of metal screaming "Geronimooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!"
In an infinite universe, anything is possible, especially if someone is faffing around with an infinite improbability drive. Just look what happened to the Poghrils in the Pansel system
... if, as reported elsewhere, the gap between the D rings and the cloud tops is 1500 miles, how can she have passed within 200 miles of the innermost ring but no closer than 1900 miles above the atmosphere?
This means the gap between the D-ring and cloud tops is 6,732km (~4000 miles), not 1,500 miles. There's space for the claimed passage.
I think this may be the first time a deflector shield has been employed in reality and not in a TV show. Someone may correct me perhaps.
All they need now is somehow to be able to divert power to the deflector to increase protection and then they can really plough a path through the asteroid belt without spending years going around it.
We're a long way from "Passengers" but it looks like we're getting there.
Does that make it the fastest man-made thing ever?
Nope, it's topped by a number of other spacecraft. Helios 2 is called the fastest spacecraft and reached 152,000mph (243,000kph) vs Cassini's 77,000mph (124,000kph). To pick another (not second fastest, just convenient): Juno's regular dives over Jupiter take it to 90,000mph (144,000kph).
More and more, science reality aided by stupendous technology is making the science reality of the not too distant past, and science fiction, appear simplistic and foolish. This is true across the entire spectrum of the physical and biological sciences. It's a pity that so relatively few are well enough educated to understand how these things really work.
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