Favorite Films | 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do. I’m half crazy, all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage. I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two…
propers to theswinginsixties:
Otis Redding performing at the Atlanta Braves Stadium, 1966.
Mix it up.
Seen at the Clubman’s All-British Motorcycle Weekend. San Jose, CA.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole.
In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 mph(150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.
“We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere.”
Scientists will be studying the hurricane to gain insight into hurricanes on Earth, which feed off warm ocean water. Although there is no body of water close to these clouds high in Saturn’s atmosphere, learning how these Saturnian storms use water vapor could tell scientists more about how terrestrial hurricanes are generated and sustained.
Both a terrestrial hurricane and Saturn’s north polar vortex have a central eye with no clouds or very low clouds. Other similar features include high clouds forming an eye wall, other high clouds spiraling around the eye, and a counter-clockwise spin in the northern hemisphere.
A major difference between the hurricanes is that the one on Saturn is much bigger than its counterparts on Earth and spins surprisingly fast. At Saturn, the wind in the eye wall blows more than four times faster than hurricane-force winds on Earth. Unlike terrestrial hurricanes, which tend to move, the Saturnian hurricane is locked onto the planet’s north pole. On Earth, hurricanes tend to drift northward because of the forces acting on the fast swirls of wind as the planet rotates. The one on Saturn does not drift and is already as far north as it can be.
“The polar hurricane has nowhere else to go, and that’s likely why it’s stuck at the pole,” said Kunio Sayanagi, a Cassini imaging team associate at Hampton University in Hampton, Va.
Scientists believe the massive storm has been churning for years. When Cassini arrived in the Saturn system in 2004, Saturn’s north pole was dark because the planet was in the middle of its north polar winter. During that time, the Cassini spacecraft’s composite infrared spectrometer and visual and infrared mapping spectrometer detected a great vortex, but a visible-light view had to wait for the passing of the equinox in August 2009. Only then did sunlight begin flooding Saturn’s northern hemisphere. The view required a change in the angle of Cassini’s orbits around Saturn so the spacecraft could see the poles.
“Such a stunning and mesmerizing view of the hurricane-like storm at the north pole is only possible because Cassini is on a sportier course, with orbits tilted to loop the spacecraft above and below Saturn’s equatorial plane,” said Scott Edgington, Cassini deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “You cannot see the polar regions very well from an equatorial orbit. Observing the planet from different vantage points reveals more about the cloud layers that cover the entirety of the planet.”
Cassini changes its orbital inclination for such an observing campaign only once every few years. Because the spacecraft uses flybys of Saturn’s moon Titan to change the angle of its orbit, the inclined trajectories require attentive oversight from navigators. The path requires careful planning years in advance and sticking very precisely to the planned itinerary to ensure enough propellant is available for the spacecraft to reach future planned orbits and encounters.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Getting busy might sound like a good way to pass the time on long space journeys, but it may not be the best idea, experts say.
If humans attempt to push the boundaries of exploration, space-based procreation will be an essential part of keeping a crew alive for the lifetime of a mission to a distant star. However, scientists don’t know how safe sex in space and childbirth may be.
NASA officials have long maintained that there has never been any hanky-panky between the space agency’s astronauts on the International Space Station or during space shuttle missions, which ended in 2011.
In light of the nonprofit Inspiration Mars Foundation’s recent plan to send a married couple on a 501-day manned mission around Mars in 2018, however, the first documented case of human sex in space might be on the horizon.
“Well, I’m sure that the couple chosen for the Inspiration Mars plan will have sex in space,” Laura Woodmansee, author of the book “Sex in Space,” told SPACE.com in an email. “No doubt there! I think that’s kind of an unwritten requirement. That’s why, I suppose, the foundation is planning to send a married couple.”
But doing the deed in microgravity might be a tall order.
“Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls,” biologist Athena Andreadis of the University of Massachusetts Medical School told SPACE.com in 2011. “Think about it: you have no friction, you have no resistance.”
Less talking, more fan art.