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Friday, September 15, 2017

A tribute to the Cassini-Huygens space craft that pulled a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ending after a brilliant 20-years hanging around Saturn... but first, a quick look at Jupiter that should make us humble





So this is Jupiter, our largest planet... and that's little teensy weensy us in comparison.

But this isn't about Jupiter... it's just that this image is so dramatic that I had to use it. This post is really about our second largest planet, Saturn, the one with the rings, and the reminiscent finish--like in Butch
Butch and Sundance
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--of the Cassini-Huygens space craft which took a two-part dive into history on the surface of the planet and its largest moon.

After 20 years of sending information on Saturn and its rings, (made up mostly of water ice and some rocky particles) the Cassini-Huygens will separate and crash majestically into Titan, its largest of 150 moons and the surface of the planet itself.

That's one of NASA's thousands of Cassini pictures that was sent back to earth. (Just think how much more fun it would have been as an emoji if it was taken with the new iPhone 8.) A few facts:

  • Saturn is the only planet that emits more energy than it receives from he sun. Take that, solar panels.
  • Saturn is bigger than 76 earths. To go from New York to Los Angeles on Saturn would be 228,000 miles, or about a 500 day drive.
  • Christmas on Saturn occurs once in 29 years, so we would have to come up with names for 336 more months like the 13th of Huey, or Dewey the 23rd or Wednesday, Louie the 18th.
  • Leap year comes every even century.
  • No President's day holiday.
  • Weather forecast of a nice day is Sunny with wind gusts of up to 1,100 miles per hour from the southwest.
  • A blue moon happens every 20 minutes.
  • The Cassini spacecraft is NOT named after fashion legend Oleg Cassini who designed clothes
    Cassini
    for Johnny Carson and others, but for Jean Domnque Cassini who discovered the Saturn moon Lapetus in 1671. Huygens is the 17th century astronomer who did the first telescopic studies of Saturn's rings.
  • The rings are about 176,000 miles wide and less than one mile thick, made up of water ice and rocky particles. In scale, they are 1,000 times thinner than the sharp edge of a razor blade.
  • Saturn enjoyed a fly-by of Voyager 1 and 2 on their eternal voyages outside our solar system, launched in 1977, now soaring outside our solar system at about 40,000 miles per hour forever. No kidding.
  • The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is a joint venture of NASA, the European Space Agency and mama, the Italians. (Which makes me proud as a second generation of four Italian immigrant grandparents.
The Cassini-Huygens team. It takes a Village!

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