Saturn Orbit Insertion
July 1, 2004 2:47 PM   Subscribe

"Standard orbit, aye, sir." Following a nail-biting ring-plane crossing and 96-minute engine burn, Cassini has arrived, and is now in orbit around Saturn, 84 light-minutes away, sending in the first closeup pictures of the planet's rings. Also see the Planetary Society's details on the Orbit Insertion, Spaceflight Now's mission updates in weblog-like format, and raw images from the spacecraft as they come. Kudos, JPL! (Aside: the press has yet to tire of Lord of the Rings references.)
posted by brownpau (14 comments total)
Previous related posts: 1, 2, 3.
posted by brownpau at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2004

those raw images are TIGHT.
I especially like this one:

What makes Saturn's rings appear so solid, precise and uniform?
posted by thisisdrew at 3:18 PM on July 1, 2004

Horray for Cassini !
posted by elpapacito at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2004

It seems like our friend JRun has found a new home.
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Could not connect to JRun Server.
When the site does load, the pictures are incredible. Thanks for the link.
posted by sequential at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2004

Well, it's about time this got a post, and a good one, too.

Thanks for the links, especially the raw images link--well done, well done.

I am quite jazzed about this, myself.
posted by y2karl at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2004

This is a great example of a news post done properly. Hats off.
posted by Quartermass at 5:35 PM on July 1, 2004

thisisdrew, the picture you reference has been taken from approximately 6.4 million kilometers away from the rings. That's why they appear solid, precise, uniform.
posted by wobh at 5:47 PM on July 1, 2004

Things must be terribly unfair for Astronomy textbook publishers.

"We have an addendum to Chapters 3, 4, 7, 11, 14 and 19 and we're going to have to re-write the index. And delete chapters 8, 12 and 16. They are totally wrong. Uh, how many planets did we say there were? Well, that's probably wrong too. Oh heck, just throw away the draft and we'll send another by next Thursday, except there are three more probes reporting in that will probably change everything again, so make that Friday. I think that the history background on Galileo, the man, that is, not the probe, is still valid, but I could be wrong. Anyway, call me."
posted by kablam at 8:12 PM on July 1, 2004

Those raw images are absolutely wonderful; thanks, brownpau!
posted by carter at 8:17 PM on July 1, 2004

What makes Saturn's rings appear so solid, precise and uniform?

Good question. A brief foray into the world of planetary science reveals the shocking truth that nobody knows as far as I can tell.
Between the four known ring systems, we see elegant examples of Lindblad and corotation resonances (first invoked in the galactic context), electromagnetic resonances, many-armed spiral density waves and bending waves, narrow ringlets which exhibit internal modes due to a collective instability, sharp-edged gaps maintained via tidal torques from embedded moonlets, and tenuous dust belts created by meteoroid impact onto parent bodies.
So there you have it. Resonant gravitational forces from large moons beyond the rings and small moonlets inside the rings seem to be the best explanation so far.
posted by euphorb at 8:59 PM on July 1, 2004

Awesome. Just awesome. Cassini is going to hang around Saturn for 4 years.

Also, this Christmas its going to drop the Huygens probe onto the surface of Titan!
posted by vacapinta at 9:42 PM on July 1, 2004

"It seems like our friend JRun..."

Have people even heard of Apache Tomcat?

Cool post, btw.
posted by spazzm at 11:47 PM on July 1, 2004

posted by Potloaf at 1:38 AM on July 2, 2004

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