Tethys Before Titan

Tethys Before Titan

Terrain on Saturn’s moon Tethys, defined with craters, is shown in front of the hazy atmosphere of the larger moon Titan in this Cassini spacecraft image. Titan is 5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles, across. Tethys is 1,062 kilometers, or 660 miles, across. This view looks toward the Saturn-facing sides of Titan and Tethys. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 17, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Tethys and 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Titan. Image scale is 12 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel on Tethys and 17 kilometers (11 miles) per pixel on Titan. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Narrow Band

Narrow Band

The shadows of Saturn’s rings cast onto the planet appear as a thin band at the equator in this image taken as the planet approached its August 2009 equinox. The novel illumination geometry that accompanies equinox lowers the sun’s angle to the ringplane, significantly darkens the rings, and causes out-of-plane structures to look anomalously bright and to cast shadows across the rings. These scenes are possible only during the few months before and after Saturn’s equinox which occurs only once in about 15 Earth years. Before and after equinox, Cassini’s cameras have spotted not only the predictable shadows of some of Saturn’s moons (see Across Resplendent Rings), but also the shadows of newly revealed vertical structures in the rings themselves (see A Small Find Near Equinox). For an earlier view of the rings’ wide shadows draped high on the northern hemisphere, see Sliding Shadows. The planet’s southern hemisphere can be seen through the transparent D ring in the lower right of the image. The rings have been brightened by a factor of 9.5 relative to the planet to enhance visibility. This view looks toward the northern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 30 degrees above the ringplane. Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 18, 2009 at a distance of approximately 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 122 kilometers (76 miles) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

A-ring Propeller

A-ring Propeller

A propeller-shaped structure, created by an unseen moon, can be seen in Saturn’s A ring. The propeller, which looks like a small, dark line interrupting the bright surrounding ring material, is in the upper left of this image near the edge of the Keeler Gap. See Sunlit Propeller to learn more about propellers. This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 16 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 3, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 279,000 kilometers (173,000 miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 16 degrees. Image scale is 1 kilometer (3,300 feet) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting Same Star

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting Same Star

NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet transiting the same star.

Today’s announcement of the discovery of the two planets, Kepler 9b and 9c, is based on seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars being monitored for subtle brightness changes as part of an ongoing search for Earth-like planets outside our solar system. Scientists designated the sun-like star Kepler-9.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]

Space Calendar August 30 – September 5 2010

Space related activities and anniversaries for August 30 – September 5 2010. Fetched live every week from NASA JPL

If you want the complete list going more than a year ahead then see the Space Calendar at NASA JPL.

Infringing Darkness

Infringing Darkness

Some of Iapetus’ dark surface interrupts the moon’s lighter terrain in this Cassini spacecraft view. Scientists continue to investigate the nature of this moon’s dark and light surface. See Global View of Iapetus’ Dichotomy to learn more. Lit terrain seen here is on the trailing hemisphere of Iapetus (1,471 kilometers, or 914 miles across). North on Iapetus is up and rotated 10 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 9, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (808,000 miles) from Iapetus and at a sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 95 degrees. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Activity Past Dark Side

Activity Past Dark Side

Saturn’s moon Enceladus, seen beyond the outline of the planet’s night side, spews water ice from its south polar region. Enceladus is farther from Cassini than the planet is here. The plumes can be faintly seen at the bottom of the moon in this image. See Bursting at the Seams to learn more about Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across). This unusual view of the planet and rings is possible because some sunlight scatters through the uppermost part of Saturn’s atmosphere to reach Cassini’s cameras on the night side of the planet. See High-Phase Drama for an explanation of this viewing geometry. This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 5 degrees below the ringplane. Enceladus and its plumes have been brightened by a factor of two relative to the planet and rings. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 25, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 617,000 kilometers (384,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 174 degrees. Image scale is 37 kilometers (23 miles) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Pulverized Planet Dust May Lie Around Double Stars

Pulverized Planet Dust May Lie Around Double Stars

PASADENA, Calif. — Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The infrared observatory spotted a surprisingly large amount of dust around three mature, close-orbiting star pairs. Where did the dust come from? Astronomers say it might be the aftermath of tremendous planetary collisions.

“This is real-life science fiction,” said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. “Our data tell us that planets in these systems might not be so lucky — collisions could be common. It’s theoretically possible that habitable planets could exist around these types of stars, so if there happened to be any life there, it could be doomed.”

Drake is the principal investigator of the research, published in the Aug.19 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

[SOURCE: spitzer.caltech.edu]

Smooth Telesto

Smooth Telesto

The smooth surface of Saturn’s moon Telesto is documented in this image captured during the Cassini spacecraft’s Aug. 27, 2009, flyby. See A Closer Look at Telesto to learn more about Telesto’s lack of craters. This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Telesto (25 kilometers, or 16 miles across). North on the moon is up and rotated 3 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) from Telesto and at a sun-Telesto-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 48 degrees. Image scale is 214 meters (702 feet) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

[SOURCE: saturn.jpl.nasa.gov]

Pulverized Planet Dust Might Lie Around Double Stars

Pulverized Planet Dust Might Lie Around Double Stars

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The infrared observatory spotted a surprisingly large amount of dust around three mature, close-orbiting star pairs. Where did the dust come from? Astronomers say it might be the aftermath of tremendous planetary collisions.

“This is real-life science fiction,” said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. “Our data tell us that planets in these systems might not be so lucky — collisions could be common. It’s theoretically possible that habitable planets could exist around these types of stars, so if there happened to be any life there, it could be doomed.”

Drake is the principal investigator of the research, published in the Aug. 19 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

[SOURCE: www.cfa.harward.edu]