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Saturn’s ice moon Enceladus is being slowly devoured by the gas giant’s rings, according to a series of new NASA images that show ghostly tendrils escaping the moon’s cryo-volcanoes and shooting off into space. Whoa.
Move over Europa, there’s another moon out to claim the title of first place we’ll discover extraterrestrial life. New research from Cornell University finds that alien microbes could, just maybe, eek it out on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. But these critters wouldn’t be like anything we’ve ever seen before — not even close.
I love to see Earth next to other objects, like this comparison of all planets and the sun or this visualisation of all the planets between the Earth and the moon. It helps me comprehend the scale of it all. Actually, it doesn’t. It just doesn’t compute, sorry.
Video: NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is back with a winner: Saturn’s crescent phase captured by Cassini with its rings and the moon Rhea. It looks like a menacing eye from a colossal evil being from another dimension opening in the darkness of space, watching all of us. There’s an amazing movie too.
Someone on Reddit just posted this old November 2010 image by the Cassini spacecraft. It shows 2-mile-high (3.5-kilometer) structures rising on Saturn’s B ring’s outer edge. We talked about this back then, but it’s a great peg to show this cool artist impression of what it would look like from the ring itself:
Our friend Val Klavans sent me a Christmas present this morning: A colour photo of Saturn as you would have seen it if you were riding the spacecraft Cassini on December 21, 2014. Saturn’s north polar hexagon stands out prominently while the rings encircle the planet. You can see the hexagon storm on its north pole.
I have always been sad that I never got to see the beginning of humanity’s ultimate journey, and even sadder to realise that in 1972 we abandoned a path that could have possibly gotten us to Mars and other planets by now. Today, we opened the gate to that path again. We should rejoice — we are going back to the stars.
Saturn’s two largest moon — Rhea and Titan — line up for the Cassini orbiter. Rhea’s pock-marked surface provides a beautiful contrast to the golden glow of Titan — though they’re both actually made up of largely similar material. [ESA]