Saturn

Real Science: A Titanic Amount Of Gas

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Now that all the Who-pla has died down, we can get back to talking about Real Science.

Indications from the Cassini mission show that Saturn's moon Titan appears to look very similar to Earth, with seas, continents, weather, and land features carved by erosion. However, on Titan, which is far too cold for water to flow, the liquid is made of hydrocarbons--methane, mostly, and in such quantities that, if we were able to bring it to Earth, there would not be enough oxygen to burn it all.

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Stunning Saturn Mosaic

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Here's an image of Saturn that will take your breath away. When you get to the linked article, click on the link for the massive 4000x3200 pixel image created by HOLY HALEAKALA Croatian software developer and “amateur” astronomical image processor Gordan Ugarkovic from a mosaic of images taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/10/17/cassini_s_saturn_inc...

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Smile For Cassini

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It's too late now, but on Friday, the NASA team controlling the Cassini space probe asked folks to go outside and smile and wave so Cassini could take their picture...from Saturn.

 

Here's how it turned out.

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/did-you-smile-camera-earth-glitters-new-view-saturn-6C10700482

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REALSPACE: Weirdest. Moon. Ever.

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Saturn has sixty-three (known) moons. Actually, since the rings are made up of tiny solid objects, the planet *technically* has quadrillions of moons, but for our purposes it's got sixty three that you can point at and say, "Hey, that's not a ring!" These range from small ones a half-mile across all the way up to Titan, the second-largest moon in the solar system (Larger than the planet Mercury). Most of them are pretty dinky, though. Only 13 are larger than thirty miles across, and only seven of these have enough mass for their own gravity to pull them into a ball shape.

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REALSPACE: So how expensive is it to put stuff in space?

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How much does it cost to put stuff in space?

Allowing for inflation, comparing late 1960s dollars to modern dollars, a Saturn V cost about a half billion dollars to build and fly, and a shuttle costs about a billion just to fly. (Construction costs are about 4 billion, but obviously you can amortize them over time, which you couldn't with a Saturn.)

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Roads The Space Program Decided Not To Travel Down…

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Remember when the Challenger blew up ‘cuz of those damn SRBs? (I was there. I saw it w/ my own eyes) The SRBs were a budgetary compromise, this is the way the shuttle was originally supposed to look and be launched, using considerably more existing (in 1975) technology than the actual shuttle ever used. http://www.starshipmodeler.info/contest5/5_scr_21.htm

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