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Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion Imminent

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the saturnz-return dept.

Space 205

Anonymous Explorer writes "Fresh off of its fly-by with the Saturnian satellite Phoebe, the Cassini-Huygens craft is set for Saturn Orbit Insertion on June 30, 2004. Cassini-Huygens has a planned four year mission ahead for Saturn and its many moons. With 450 watts of power for the electronics, this mission has plenty enough horses to run the stretch with plenty-o-pep to spare. Thanks to all that power, and the plethora of electronics on Cassini and the Huygens probe, we can now hear sounds from Saturn. Pretty cool stuff! Festivities are scheduled to begin on June 29th with a broadcast of Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion Press Conference on Nasa TV. SOI [PDF link] will occur after Cassini fires its main engine for 96 minutes, in order to slow down and be grabbed by the pull of Saturn. As always we extend an invitation to everyone to join #cassini on irc.freenode.net and help us celebrate this historic mission."

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Adrian! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560499)

Don't get me wrong, I love the president. But a recent interview with Irish television leaves me confused. Here are two quotes:

"People join terrorist organizations because there's no hope and there's no chance to raise their families in a peaceful world where there is not freedom ... so the idea is to promote freedom and at the same time protect our security.

"These people are willing to kill innocent people. They're willing to slaughter innocent people to stop the advance of freedom," Bush said.

So which is it? Do people join terrorist organizations because there is not freedom or to stop the advance of freedom?

Please advise. Thx.

450 watts? (5, Funny)

sirboxalot (791959) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560507)

I have the same amount of power in my computer's power supply. Something seems fundamentally wrong with that.

Re:450 watts? (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560576)

Yeah, it means that your computer is inefficient and power-hungry.

Of course, if you had a team of people working to make your computer as efficient as a Saturn probe...

Re:450 watts? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560894)

Not necessarily; power supplies adjust themselves for how much of a draw on it there is. It just means that it is *possible* that the poster's computer is inefficient and power hungry ;)

Re:450 watts? (3, Funny)

umrgregg (192838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560592)

Damnit! When I sent in my fabrication designs I told them that they needed to run at least 1.21 gigawatts through the flux capacitor to uh... Well, that's... Nevermind.

Re:450 watts? (3, Informative)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560602)

I searched through the various articles trying to find that number, but no go. Maybe they're missing a zero... or perhaps 450W is actually a lot on a system that is likely drawing continuous power off a solar panel/battery.

Considering the computer power needed to go to the moon, it's not likely that this thing needs an 3.2Ghz processor and GeForce :-)

My Epia-M is plugged in taking about less than 30W of power (including HDD and DVD-ROM)... so really the equivilent of an efficient 1Ghz processor wouldn't need anything near your desktop machine's draw.

Re:450 watts? (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560922)

Cassini is powered by the heat of decay of plutonium creating a variation in temperature across a junction of two different metals, which creates electric power (thermoelectrics). It's called an RTG: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. They're not very efficient, but you try carrying a pebble bed reactor into space and operating it by long-distance remote control in zero g..... ;)

Re:450 watts? (5, Funny)

falzer (224563) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560604)

> Something seems fundamentally wrong with that.

Like watt?

a little over half a horse (1, Funny)

missing000 (602285) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560606)

Re:a little over half a horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560786)

They wanted to have horse-chariot races arond the rings of Saturn, but all they could manage to bring was half a horse. I just hope it's not the half that breathes.

Re:450 watts? (5, Informative)

Fouquet (753286) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560721)

That's a bit low, but not too far off. Cassini uses 3 RTG power sources to generate the ~700-800 W necessary for the science instruments. Solar cells are not practical at that distance.

This PDF file [nasa.gov] details the power supply situation on the spacecraft.

It's pretty remarkable how little power spacecraft like this consume (and I'm pretty sure that Cassini is the most power hungry of the 'outer-solarsystem' probes NASA has launched).

Re:450 watts? (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560987)

RTGs decrease in power production over time (since we're dealing with half lifes here). It has three RTGs which, initially, produced 285 watts of power each. With a half life of 87 years for Pu238, they should be somewhere around 250 watts each currently, so that sounds reasonable...

Re:450 watts? (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560730)

I was thinking the same thing:
450w / 746 = 0.6 hp

Granted, that's more horsepower than my table saw, but only just barely.

Re:450 watts? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560799)

Well, your computer's power supply isn't in orbit around Saturn. That's the difference. It's incredible work to put a power source there. And as far as space probes go, 450 watts is ample.

Ah, but did it generate the 450? (4, Insightful)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560850)

450 may not sound like a lot, until you have to generate it for yourself years on end.

Your little computer is a lot bigger if you include the size of the Power Station it is attached to through a long peice of wire.

Someone should calculate how the amount of coal or oil that would be needed to provide power for Cassini if it weren't nuclear. Or the size of solar cells needed at that distance from the sun (and their wieight).

Re:Ah, but did it generate the 450? (1)

Fouquet (753286) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560900)

Or the size of solar cells needed at that distance from the sun (and their wieight).

NASA did just this. See the PDF I linked to above, and there is a diagram showing the relative sizes solar arrays would have to be to be used at the outer planets.

Re:Ah, but did it generate the 450? (4, Informative)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561118)

That's pretty easy to do. Look up the enthalpy of combustion for fuel oil and coal. Any good thermodynamic textbook will have both. The unit for enthalpy is KJ/g (Kilojoules per gram of fuel.) A watt is 1 joule per second. (Isn't metric lovely?)

I googled around and found some stats from the power industry as "energy density of fossil fuel"

Energy density of Fuel Oil: 42.5 MJ/Kg
Energy density of Anthracite Coal: 31.4 MJ/Kg

MJ/Kg is Mega (million) joules per Kilogram. Our power unit provides 450 watts, thus uses 0.00045 MJ/s. A day's worth of power is 0.00045 MJ/s 3600 s/hour * 24 hours/day = 38.9 MJ. (Remember your signifigant digits!)

To convert that back to weight:
38.9 MJ/Kg / 42.5 MJ = 0.915 Kg/day of Oil
38.9 MJ/Kg / 31.4 MJ = 1.23 Kg/day of Coal

We are in the 7th year of the flight, so:

0.915 Kg/day * 365.26 days/year * 7 years = 2340 Kg of Oil
1.23 Kg/day * 365.26 * 7 = 3150 Kg of Coal.

Plus or minus.

Re:Ah, but did it generate the 450? (4, Informative)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561261)

Oh yeah, and double all those amounts. That is the theoretical maximum that could be derived from the fuel. In practice, the best we can achieve is 40 percent. (In an industrial setting, small vehicle's like cars are lucky to get 10%).

So

2340 Kg / 0.40 = 5850 Kj of oil
3150 Kg / 0.40 = 7880 Kj of coal

Re:Ah, but did it generate the 450? (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561201)

I'll do it for gasoline. :)

Let's assume that Cassini averages needing 700 watts over the course of its lifetime, and lets assume a lifetime of 18 years. That's about 80 MWh of power. Assuming a 40% efficiency diesel engine burning gasoline and oxygen (have to take the O2 with you!)...

Gasoline has an energy density of 45.8 MJ/kg. Since 2 molecule of gasoline requires about 25 molecules oxygen (O2) to react, you have a molar ratio of 1 mole gasoline to 12.5 moles oxygen. 1 mole of gasoline mass about 114 grams; 12.5 moles of o2 mass about 400 grams. So, your overall energy density is about 10.2 MJ/kg.

Since we're burning at 40% efficiency, that's about 4.1MJ of energy per kg fuel/oxidizer. 1 joule = 0.0002778 Wh. 4.1MJ/kg = 1.1kWh/kg. 80MWh / 1.1kWh/kg = ~73 metric tons.

33 kilograms of plutonium suddenly sounds quite appealing, ne? :)

Re:450 watts? (1)

Jott42 (702470) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561065)

According to the press kit, the power from the three thermoelectric generators should be at 750 Watts. In addition 82 radioisotope heaters are used, each giving about 1 watt of heat.

The communication with earth is achieved by a 20 W amplifier at 8.4 GHz and a 4 meter parbolic dish antenna.

Sounds of Martian Life?!! (1, Funny)

dukeluke (712001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560508)

Wow - does that mean we can actually hear and thus potentialy decipher and understand what the martians are saying in their native tongue on the Red Planet?? -- Perhaps we can master the language so that when they come to visit us - we'll understand that they're saying "Don't Feed the Humans" rather than "Eat them!"

Re:Sounds of Martian Life?!! (1)

mschiller (764721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560527)

Try Saturanians.. Cassini is at Saturn.. Not Mars...

Re:Sounds of Martian Life?!! (1)

dukeluke (712001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560549)

Oh yes .... my bad ;-) --- lol, I got hung up on the sounds part and forgot the article said saturn not mars :-P

Re:Sounds of Martian Life?!! (4, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560720)

Hey, Americans have a hard enough time finding Canada on a map. Other planets are WAY beyond that.

/Yes, I'm hitting on my own gang

Re:Sounds of Martian Life?!! (1)

mschiller (764721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560774)

You have a point.. But in this case we aren't asking to FIND saturn. The takes some skills many american don't have. Here a dumb american only needs to recognize that Mars is not the same place as Saturn.

FWIW, I am a dumb american...

-- Matthew Schiller

Re:Sounds of Martian Life?!! (1)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560543)

Well, if the probe were orbiting MARS, then we might be able to listen in to the MARTIANS, but since its orbiting Saturn, which is a gas giant (and incapable of supporting life as we know it) then I think we'll be just straining our ears if we want to hear Mars.

Malda's penis insertion imminent (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560514)

into Michael's puckered, welcoming anus.

Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560526)

..for transmitting from millions of miles away and some HAMs are using 10 kilowatts upwards just for transmitting earth-to-earth!

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (1)

PhilippeT (697931) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560577)

Yes but HAMs don't use enormous receiving arrays

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560593)

Well, yeah. Most HAMs don't have dish antennae with diameters measurable in friggin miles...

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (2, Funny)

Auntie Virus (772950) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560950)

I started building one, but the friggin neighbors complained again...

Moon landings and technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560596)

I can imagine in 10-15 years time -

"when they went inside Saturns orbit, they only had the same technology as your wristwatch does"

Except it will be a pda, mobile, write chronometer, tv, flashlight.

*checks*

Camera.

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560607)

On the other hand, it's not like your average HAM has the Deep Space Network [nasa.gov] at his disposal. 70m antennas [nasa.gov] are bigger that you might expect.

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560731)

70m antennas [nasa.gov] are bigger that you might expect.

Damn. That is bigger than I thought it would be. One question though. Where's the headphone jack to listen for pulsating alien transmissions?

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (5, Funny)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561020)

70m antennas are bigger that you might expect.

What, like 75 meters?


Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (4, Informative)

CausticPuppy (82139) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560629)

Yeah but it's directional signal coming from the probe. 0.5 kilowatts of narrow-beam signal goes a lot farther than 10 kilowatts broadcasted from an omnidirectional antenna. But you need dishes at both ends, and they have to be aligned correctly.

I'm sure I'm not using the correct terminology (in case HAM radio experts are reading this) but that is the gist of it.

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (2, Informative)

nyrk (779328) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560637)

for transmitting from millions of miles away and some HAMs are using 10 kilowatts upwards just for transmitting earth-to-earth!

Some, but it is considered very bad form to use more power than necessary. Transmitting across the ground is very different than transmitting through the space. Line of sight drastically reduces the ammount of power you need, as well as using directional antenas.

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560656)

10KW? Doesn't sound like a very responsible ham.

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (1)

Slinky Saves the Wor (759676) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560748)

But that's a big ass dish and DSP gear they're using to catch the signals from Cassini...

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (2, Informative)

mschiller (764721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560834)

I should hope NO U.S. Ham is using 10 Kilowatts since we are limited to 1.5 KW output power. Now we won't talk about the Effective Radiated Power, due to the gain of the antenna's used.

  1. http://web.wt.net/~w5un/mba2003.jpg

Re:Not even 0.5kilowatts.. (1)

mschiller (764721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560853)

Opps wrong button... That Antenna array I can assure you has much much more then 10 Kilowatts ERP.

-- Matthew Schiller, A.R.S. KD6BWE

Only 20 Watts... (4, Interesting)

Jott42 (702470) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561275)

The travelling-wave amplifier gives only 20 Watts of output power, which feeds into a 4 meter dish antenna. At 8.4 GHz this gives a gain of about 50 dB. EIRP then at 2 MW. (And a free space loss to Saturnus of about 300 dB....)

With 450 watts of power for the electronics... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560554)

...this thing could run one of those newfangled nVidia cards. I wish I could say the same for my rig.

What will really be hair raising... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560578)

...is the orbital insertion of Uranus.

Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (3, Interesting)

vi (editor) (791442) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560588)

Remember when Greenpeace and other eco-idiologists wanted to abort the Hygens-Cassini mission due to the Plutonium batteries because they might drop back on earth and contain TEH EVIL RADIOACTIVE PLUTONIUM which would kill seals and cute little children ?
Lucky the officials at NASA and ESA weren't that stupid and fought off this attack.
The tremendous success of this mission illustrates how these 21th century idiologists are could stiffle science and cause harm for the whole world.
It makes me wonder if we could get this done today or in year with the eco rising to power in Europe and perhaps US after the elections, too.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560618)

Naturally, you share the same concern with respect to biosciences and Xian (among others) fundamentalism. Right?

In which case, it is odd that you are so concerned about the post-election scene. There's plenty to be outraged about right now.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560657)

The tremendous success of this mission illustrates how these 21th century idiologists are could stiffle science and cause harm for the whole world.

As opposed to the current administration which bases its scientific thought process on religion rather than empirical evidence, right?

Religion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560682)

The neocon scientific thought process is also based upon maintaining political power and aiding (and abetting) friends in high places. Sometimes a mumbling about free markets will help in coming to terms with technological progress.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (3, Insightful)

strictnein (318940) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560704)

The far left bases their decisions and opinions on just as much "science" as the far right does. To the far left, nature and humanity is god. To the far right, God is god.

Take your pick.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9561268)

Ash-shadu anna laa ilaha il Allah.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (5, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560673)

Airborne plutonium dust is nothing to sniff at. Plutonium is harmless as a solid, but in dust form it's very toxic. Of course, so are the vapors from the rocket's propellent tanks, just about every combusted plastic and rubber compound on the spacecraft, and all the vaporized metal.

Yes, the greenies were making a mountain out of a molehill. Nuclear powered satellites have been launched for years, and the reactors are specifically designed to survive the destruction of the spacecraft.

The problem is that we live in a world that is only willing to offer 30 seconds of attention about any subject at a time.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (4, Funny)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560706)

"The problem is that we live in a world that is only willing to offer 30 seconds of attention about any subject at a time."

What are you talking about? It's not like the entire World has ADD or some... Hey, what's that shiny thing over there?

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560712)

But to be fair, would breathing in the fumes from a melting Cassini kill you any quicker than breathing in the fumes from a melting computer or a melting car?

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560771)

Well if the fumes didn't get you, the deep freeze or asphyphiation in the vacuum of space would for sure.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560800)

Vacuum of space? It was a vacuum - until you threw your melting spacecraft garbage there! Now its only a near-vacuum with Plutonium dust! Damn you NASA!!! You've ruined the last untouched region of the universe.

Where do we have to go now to enjoy a nice clean refreshing vacuum?

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (3, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560843)

Where do we have to go now to enjoy a nice clean refreshing vacuum?

I dunno, the appliance section of [insert retail store]?

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (5, Informative)

joehoya (541611) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560951)

Lots of people are saying that Cassini uses a nuclear reactor... this is not the case as Cassini actually uses 3 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG) [doe.gov] . RTGs are different from reactors in that they are much simpler devices which produce electricity directly from the decay of radioactive material, in this case PU-238. Reactors on the other hand produce power from heat generated by a controlled nuclear chain-reaction.

Re:Victory of SCIENCE over ECOIDIOLOGY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9561255)

The tremendous success of this mission illustrates how these 21th century idiologists are could stiffle science and cause harm for the whole world.
It makes me wonder if we could get this done today or in year with the eco rising to power in Europe and perhaps US after the elections, too.


Kinda like when Congress Cut funding for the Super Collider.

Horses? (3, Funny)

birdwax2k (787311) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560601)

...this mission has plenty enough horses to run the stretch with plenty-o-pep to spare.

Lets hope none of them are named Smarty Jones...

Slashdot NASA Early (2, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560608)

Beat the rush.

I Wonder... (5, Funny)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560619)

Do the rings make the same noise represented on the Star Trek Voyager intro?

Re:I Wonder... (3, Funny)

ebh (116526) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560696)

I suspect it's a few clanking and crunching sounds followed by static...

After this insertion... (5, Funny)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560639)

on to Uranus!


Here, I'll help you out.

-1, Troll.

sounds? (2, Funny)

rgf71 (448062) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560666)

I'd much rather hear the sounds of Saturn than the sounds of Uranus.

Sorry. Had to do it.

Re:sounds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560869)

come on mods... The obligatory fart joke CAN'T be marked as redundant!

made me laugh anyway...

Insertion Imminent (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560672)

Alas the only other time geeks encounter this situation is when they plug in a new video card.

Re:Insertion Imminent (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560690)

Speak for yourself. I have the kid to prove otherwise.

Re:Insertion Imminent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560899)

Speak for yourself. I have the kid to prove otherwise.

So, your wife/girlfriend/mother/sister had sex with someone?

Re:Insertion Imminent (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560943)

...you mean a baby goat [slashdot.org] , right? I mean, you can't just walk into a store and buy a child. I suppose you could kidnap one or buy one off the black market, but that's quite illegal!

=Smidge=

Re:Insertion Imminent (0, Redundant)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560819)

At least the insertion isn't into Uranus...

Sorry, couldn't help myself there.

Re:Insertion Imminent (1)

Cyberhwk (778308) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560937)

Dang I got all excited about insertion being imminent and all and then I find out its in uranus. Do you realize what a buzz kill that is? I feel like taking a shower now. So dirty. So wrong.

Re:Insertion Imminent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560989)

When will life imitate Futurama and rename that planet to stop all of these stupid jokes?

Re:Insertion Imminent (2, Funny)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561095)

<farnsworth>Scientists renamed Uranus in 2024 in order to finally stop all those stupid jokes...

what did they name it?

Urectum!</farnsworth>

Sounds from Saturn? (4, Funny)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560688)

Hearing sounds from Saturn is nothing new. My 1997 SL1 (like most old Saturns) is VERY noisy ... you can hear it coming from a mile away. Step on the gas and it sounds like the power steering pump is going to pop through the hood.

Re:Sounds from Saturn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560752)

Damn, if I had mod points I would have modded that up;)

I hope it takes photos (2, Interesting)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560692)

I want to see photos of the rings from inside (the rim? the gap?)...

BTW, how thick are the rings at the point where the probe is passing through them? How long will it take to clear that space?

This is from NASA's page (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560734)

The rings of Saturn have puzzled astronomers ever since they were discovered by Galileo in 1610, during the first telescopic observations of the night sky. The puzzles have only increased since Voyagers 1 and 2 imaged the ring system extensively in 1980 and 1981. In addition to the images, several Voyager instruments observed occultations of the ring system with radial resolution as fine as 100 meters. The rings have been given letter names in the order of their discovery. The main rings are, working outward from the planet, known as C, B, and A. The Cassini Division is the largest gap in the rings and separates Rings B and A. In addition a number of fainter rings have been discovered more recently. The D Ring is exceedingly faint and closest to the planet. The F Ring is a narrow feature just outside the A Ring. Beyond that are two far fainter rings named G and E. The particles in Saturn's rings are composed primarily of water ice and range from microns to meters in size. The rings show a tremendous amount of structure on all scales; some of this structure is related to gravitational perturbations by Saturn's many moons, but much of it remains unexplained.
linky [yahoo.com]

Re:I hope it takes photos (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560750)

Is this a troll?

Re:I hope it takes photos (3, Informative)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560758)

I can't answer for the thickness of the rings, but it was mentioned in a few of the articles that NASA is trying to stay as far away from the rings as possible. The closest approach will be from above the rings and the rest of the photographs will be taken from the top of the rings. Other than that, they consider them a collision hazard...

Re:I hope it takes photos (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560885)

yea but isnt the probe supposed to fly through a gap in the rings? it'd be great to get a photo taken "at level".

ObSpock (1)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560699)

"That is illogical, ensign. Sound cannot travel through the vacuum of space."

Sound in space? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560700)

How did they get sound? There is no sound in space (since it requires a medium like the air)... My guess is that the frequency of these "sounds" is close to that of the radiation being measured... Does anyone have the complete information on this?

Re:Sound in space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9560822)

I believe the idea is that they will be within the atmosphere, where there will be a medium for sound to propagate thru...

Re:Sound in space? (3, Informative)

lockefire (691775) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560837)

The Huygens probe [nasa.gov] will be recording the sounds of Titan (which has an atmosphere).

Insert Uranus joke here (-1, Redundant)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560740)

At least it didn't go to Uranus, then the headline would read.... oh nevermind.

Pheobe as a source of ice (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560761)

People theorizing about asteroid mining in the past had talked about complicated ways of getting ice out of the rare ice-bearing asteroids. Now that we know Phoebe is icy, I wonder if it ends up being the most practical place in the solar system to get ice. Although it's in the outer solar system, which is inconvenient, that's not necessarily such a big deal with solar-powered ion drive propulsion (as demonstrated by NASA already), which theoretically allows you to send anything into any orbit without paying for energy.

Re:Pheobe as a source of ice (2, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560820)

Solar power doesn't provide a lot of energy in deep space. The sun out that far look like a really bright star. That why Cassini needed a nuclear reactor.

absolutely (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561027)

I guess it depends on the application, but I don't see solar working further out than Jupiter, and really you should be much closer (say Mars or Earth). Incidentally, I've run across multiple definitions of "deep space" from 2,000,000 km [bldrdoc.gov] to an region "outside" [hyperdictionary.com] the solar system. Very far from the Sun seems a good definition as any. :-)

Re:Pheobe as a source of ice (4, Informative)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561186)

Cassini does NOT use a nuclear reactor. It uses Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators [nasa.gov] . Please do no feed misinformation to the nuclear ignorant torch burning masses.

Re:Pheobe as a source of ice (1)

TheLetterPsy (792255) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560993)

How about a link to (as demonstrated by NASA already)?

Sound? What sound? (4, Informative)

allanj (151784) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560918)

The sound they refer to is a frequency-shifted and time-compressed recording of emissions from charged particles in the magnetic field around Saturn. There is no actual "sound" there, as sound requires an athmosphere(sp?) of some sort. There's athmosphere a-plenty on Saturn (most of it IS probably gas, after all), but none near or around the probe.

Re:Sound? What sound? (1)

Watcher (15643) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561282)

Later on we'll hopefully hear sound from the surface of Titan, once the Huygens probe lands. That could be interesting (or it could just be the sound of blowing wind).

Power? What power? (1)

eugeni (463019) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560940)

...Well, this power may be enough for all this electronics, but it is not quite enough to power a single Nvidia card... :-)

The Song of Saturn At Last! (2, Funny)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 9 years ago | (#9560968)


"Thanks to all that power, and the plethora of electronics on Cassini and the Huygens probe, we can now hear sounds from Saturn."

Not to mention that giant space phonograph needle they included at the last minute. Now we just have to have it doesn't skip on the Cassini Division.

(Append witty RIAA reference here.)

Nah, they did it two days early (3, Funny)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561015)

They figured if they entered orbit two days before the scheduled date, they could avoid attacks by the Saturni insurgents.

I can't wait... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9561056)

for the sound of Uranus insertion....

Choice: Saturn or Spacewalk (4, Informative)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561068)

Today marks an interesting first (at least as far as I have been able to tell): the NASA channel has had to choose which current space activity to put on TV.

On Wednesday there will be an EVA on the ISS right around the time the Cassini stuff will be happening. Thus, NASA TV had to choose, for the first time, which thing happening in space was more exciting.

How cool is that? There's actually enough going on up there that one TV channel is not enough!

Whadya know, the revolution IS televised.

Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion Imminent (1)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561121)

...yeah, that's what you think!

CB

Saturn (0, Offtopic)

garbs (121069) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561188)

Sounds Boring

Let the orbital insertion begin... (4, Funny)

Titchener (769895) | more than 9 years ago | (#9561286)

wakka-chikka-wakka-chikka "Hello Saturn, I'm Cassini-Huygens. I'm here to repair your plumbing."
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