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#1 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » Heliopolis *2* - ...Sun, Solar Science Cont'd... » 2008-04-01 06:28:59

And it's about time.  roll   Dang that stupid Sun; we'll get it to cooperate one way or another. 

SOLAR MAX RESCHDULED: Impatient with the quiet sun, NASA researchers have rescheduled solar maximum. The peak was due in 2012, but now it's going to happen this month. "We've launched millions of dollars worth of spacecraft to study solar activity, and what are we getting? Puny little A-flares and feeble old sunspots," complained a high-ranking source at NASA headquarters. "We need some real explosions! Rescheduling Solar Max should solve the problem."

Yay!  big_smile

News of the shift was announced on April 1st.


That from

#2 Re: Not So Free Chat » The Flag that Barack Obama won't wear » 2008-03-28 14:35:51

some Americans think of themselves as "citizens of the World" and not Americans, but America's enemies make no such distinction.

Very true.

This anti-American, "America must lose" attitude is what really alienates me. I can no more understand them than a Jew could understand a NAZI.

Also known as "cutting your own throat."  Not very smart.

#3 Re: Not So Free Chat » The Flag that Barack Obama won't wear » 2008-03-28 07:18:32

Therefore, a judgment made about a person is less likely to be accurate if that judgment was made based on a 10 second sound bite.

Do we grant the same to Jerry Falwell (now deceased) and Pat Robertson? 

It is completely disingenuous to say that Wright has "ranted and railed" against the US for 20 years. When watched in their proper context, the two speeches quoted so often on the news don't seem so outrageous.

I think strongly implying America deserved 9/11 is rather outrageous (all those airline passengers and folks in the Twin Towers deserved to die because of Hiroshima & Nagasaki? Osama bin Laden is on video tape saying the same thing).  Falwell & Robertson also said as much and they rightfully got into hot water for it.  Rev. Wright shouldn't be exempt.

In fact, I've only been able to find two speeches where he says anything even close to "anti-american." There are a great number of things he says in other sermons that I find myself agreeing with. And none of his sermons were the type of racist, anti-American "hate-speeches" that everyone loves to talk about.

I checked the church web site after the story broke.  They openly claim to be pro-African and anti-European.  Is that a clever way of saying "pro-black and anti-white"?  They also don't fly the American flag outside their building.

Also, when I first checked the church's web site it was highly pro-black, pro-black.  For blacks.  The next day all that was GONE...and now they're "inclusive" towards Hispanics, Asians [everyone but Caucasians apparently; Caucasians aren't mentioned  lol ]

Actions speak louder than words.

It's also worth noting that Ron Paul was automatically trounced for purportedly having made nasty remarks about gays and blacks in the early '90s.  Once THAT came to light (via papers), his candidacy was doomed.

#4 Re: Not So Free Chat » The Flag that Barack Obama won't wear » 2008-03-27 10:32:52

A difference should be pointed out, imo:  If a person or group criticizes something about the US in a constructive way with the intention of bettering the nation for all...that's one thing.

But otherwise?  Yes (regardless of color, ethnicity, whatever) if they're THAT disgruntled with the US and hate it...leave.  Who's making them stay?  It's a big world out there; surely they can find some place more pleasing/fitting to live.

Consider it like a divorce:  If there's irreconcilable differences and animosity, end the relationship.

An acquaintance of my husband's from Mexico has recently become a US citizen.  Now all he does is complain and whine.  Well, Mexico is still there and only 50 miles away...

::Edit::  What particularly troubles me about the Obama situation is a lot of Americans don't seem to care that he was/is affiliated with an anti-American church for 20 years.  Hello??

I really do not understand this.  Is it self-loathing/hatred as a result of the ongoing Iraq War?

#5 Re: Not So Free Chat » Song by Mars Bonfire » 2008-03-27 10:02:30

A favorite:

Mars Bonfire, eh?

Googled for correct lyrics and of course was struck by the songwriter's "name." Brings to mind all sorts of questions, images, etc.  8)

#6 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2008-03-27 09:19:25

More on Enceladus: … aturn_moon

found organic matter

The discovery excited mission team members, who say it's a marker for further research into whether the icy satellite Enceladus has such an environment.

The chemical analysis by Cassini revealed that Enceladus' interior was similar to that of a comet.

A friend (elsewhere) had proposed that perhaps a comet smacked into Enceladus ages ago.

While the jet plumes were mostly water vapor, the probe found traces of methane and simple organic compounds

"We clearly have the organics and are closing in on the question of liquid water in the interior"

Detailed heat maps of the lunar surface revealed the south pole is warmer than previously thought. Temperature measurements show the region is at least minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit — 63 degrees hotter than previously known.

#7 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2008-03-26 11:52:49

The latest on Titan:

With each flyby, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been building up the case that there are lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. But now we get the stunning news that the planet might have vast oceans of water and ammonia underneath its surface as well.

"We believe that about 62 miles beneath the ice and organic-rich surface is an internal ocean of liquid water mixed with ammonia..." 

Since Titan has an incredibly thick atmosphere, 1.5 times more dense than the Earth, it's possible that powerful winds are rocking the moon back and forth around its axis. It might be speeding the rotation up at one point in the year, and then slowing it back down again. But this would only be possible if there's an ocean underneath the surface that the entire crust floats on top of.

#8 Re: Not So Free Chat » The Flag that Barack Obama won't wear » 2008-03-26 11:44:41

Regarding "Rev." Wright, apparently he's willfully disregarded (or is ignorant of) the fact that the Midwestern states which Obama won (Iowa in particular) are mostly populated by whites; Iowa alone is 94% white.  Dare I say if it weren't for white peoples' votes, Obama wouldn't have made it this far? 

I find it disingenuous that Obama only now is referring to Wright as "my former pastor."  And if Wright hates the US so much, what was he doing on Obama's campaign in an official capacity?  Why did Obama approve of Wright's presence on his campaign?  He's only "off" the campaign because of video; he got found out.

I was rather taken with Obama's candidacy and was considering yes, perhaps I will vote for him instead of McCain.  But now?  Nope.

What a pity overall.

Bill from Chicago used to post here, and he was greatly in favor of Obama years ago [2005?].  Can't help wondering what his reaction is now.

#9 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » Heliopolis *2* - ...Sun, Solar Science Cont'd... » 2008-01-15 07:17:27

NORTH POLE FLYBY: This week, at a pivotal moment in the solar cycle, the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft is flying over the sun's North Pole. The sun's polar regions are central to the ebb and flow of solar cycles, so this is a good time to visit. … thpole.htm

Many researchers believe the sun's poles are central to the ebb and flow of the solar cycle. Consider the following: When sunspots break up, their decaying magnetic fields are carried toward the poles by vast currents of plasma. This makes the poles a sort of "graveyard for sunspots." Old magnetic fields sink beneath the polar surface two hundred thousand kilometers deep, all the way down to the sun's inner magnetic dynamo. There, dynamo action amplifies the fields for use in future solar cycles

One big puzzle revealed by previous flybys is the temperature of the sun's poles. In the previous solar cycle, the magnetic north pole was about 80,000 degrees or 8% cooler than the south. Why should there be a difference? No one knows.

The current flyby may help solve the puzzle because it comes less than a year after a similar South Pole flyby in Feb. 2007. Mission scientists will be able to compare temperature measurements, north vs. south, with hardly any gap between them.

#11 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2008-01-09 08:49:19

Those are terrific photos, cIclops.  big_smile

Some recent headlines pertaining to Saturn/Cassini:

Puzzing hot spots:

Both of Saturn's poles have surprising swirling hotspots that persist even through years of polar winter, a new study reveals.

The hotspots are localized areas in Saturn's gaseous atmosphere over its poles that are considerably warmer than the surrounding air — they're actually about as warm as the atmosphere at Saturn's equator

Whoa!  :shock:

Scientists had thought that solar irradiation might be generating the hotspot in the southern hemisphere (currently in its summer phase, facing the sun), but the existence of a similar hotspot in the northern hemisphere, which has been plunged in wintry darkness for many years, suggests that isn't the case.

Yeah, that seems logical (isn't the case).

Instead, dynamic processes in Saturn's atmosphere may create the hotspots, the new findings, detailed in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Science, suggest, Fletcher says.

Air being sucked downward at the poles may cause the hotspots, while air moving upward in the atmosphere may be creating a cold "collar" around the hotspots. These air movements could be responsible for the raging hurricane-like storm imaged over the south pole in 2006.

And they mention The Hexagon at the north pole:

As unusual as the hotspots themselves is the warm hexagonal ring of air surrounding the cold collar of the northern hemisphere hotspot. Stranger still is the lack of such a shape around the south pole.

"The mystery is... why on earth — or why on Saturn even — do we see a hexagon around the north pole, and not around the south pole?" Fletcher told

I've also wondered that.  Like many folks following this, I'm sure.

Other missions have provided hints that Jupiter and Neptune have hotspots over their poles as well, suggesting they could be a feature of the atmospheres of all gaseous planets

And wouldn't it be mind-blowing if all other gas giants also have northern pole hexagons?  Although I'd think Galileo would have spotted that during its Jupiter mission; I'd be surprised if they didn't fly Galileo directly over/under each pole (but I can't recall; it's been a while now).


Recycling "old timers"

New observations by NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicate the rings of Saturn, once thought to have formed during the age of the dinosaurs, instead may have been created roughly 4.5 billion years ago, when the solar system was still under construction.

led scientists (previously) to believe Saturn's rings were relatively youthful and likely created by a comet that shattered a large moon, perhaps 100 million years ago.  But ring features seen by instruments on Cassini -- which arrived at Saturn in 2004 -- indicate the rings were not formed by a single cataclysmic event. The ages of the different rings appear to vary significantly, and the ring material is continually being recycled

"The evidence is consistent with the picture that Saturn has had rings all through its history,"..."We have discovered that the rings probably were not created just yesterday in cosmic time, and in this scenario, it is not just luck that we are seeing planetary rings now," said Esposito. "They probably were always around but continually changing, and they will be around for many billions of years."


Scientists had previously believed rings as old as Saturn itself should be darker due to ongoing pollution by the "infall" of meteoric dust, leaving telltale spectral signatures, Esposito said. But the new Cassini observations indicate the churning mass of ice and rock within Saturn's gigantic ring system is likely much larger than previously estimated.  This helps explain why the rings overall appear relatively bright to ground-based telescopes and spacecraft.

Wow.  smile

clumps of icy boulders that are continually collecting and disbanding due to the competing processes of shattering and coming together again. The team tagged the clumpy moonlets with cat names like "Mittens" and "Fluffy" because they appear to come and go unexpectedly over time and have multiple lives, said Esposito.


Esposito stressed that Saturn's rings of the future won't be the same rings we see today, likening them to great cities around the world like San Francisco, Berlin or Beijing. "While the cities themselves will go on for centuries or millennia, the faces of people on the streets will always be changing due to continual birth and aging of new citizens."

An addition to that article: … 80107.html

Bright Clumpy Moonlets and Cold Saturn Mittens aptly named 'cause they remind us of kittens!   tongue

(Someone had the song "My Favorite Things" in mind apparently, lol)

Artist's conception.

#12 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » Heliopolis *2* - ...Sun, Solar Science Cont'd... » 2008-01-09 08:42:37

Solar Cycle 24 begins

From (Jan 5):

Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. Yesterday, a magnetically reversed sunspot emerged at solar latitude 30 N, shown in this photo taken by Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland:

If that doesn't show up it's posted at date Jan. 5.

For reasons explained in a recent Science@NASA story, this marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the first step toward a new solar maximum. Intense solar activity won't begin right away. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max (expected in 2011 or 2012). It's a slow journey, but we're on our way!

Yay!  Come on massive chains of sunspots and raging CME's! 

By then I'll have my Corona solar telescope.   8)

#14 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2007-07-05 06:56:37

Hyperion is "all kinds of weird": pockmarked by deep craters that it looks like a giant, rotating bath sponge adrift in space.
New image analyses suggest the moon's odd appearance is the result of a highly porous surface that preserves craters, allowing them to remain nearly as pristine as the day they were created.

Scientists determined that Hyperion is composed mostly of water ice and that the bottoms of its craters are covered in a dark red gunk that could be the key to resolving some of the moon's other strange properties.

More about the "dark red gunk" in a moment.

Hyperion undergoes "chaotic rotation," meaning its axis of rotation shifts so much that scientists can't reliably predict its orientation in space.

Hyperion's high porosity could explain its sponge-like appearance, scientists say. A large meteor striking Earth's moon will gouge a deep hole on the surface and send up a giant spray of rock and dust. The excavated material rains back down onto the lunar surface and into other craters, partially filling them in. In contrast, the surface of Hyperion is so brittle that an object striking it will create a hole but not send any material flying. Surrounding craters remain as deep as when they first formed.

The reddish gunk contains long chains of carbon and hydrogen and appears very similar to material found on other Saturnian satellites, most notably Iaeptus.

This link has some scientists speculating that Hyperion's strange shape and Iaeptus' odd paint job share a common origin. "Maybe Hyperion got hit and is the origin of this dark stuff which then got spewed out and got swept up by Iapetus," Cruickshank told

According to this idea, a giant object collided with a still-round Hyperion in the distant past. The impact sent Hyperion into a cosmic spin that it is still reeling from today and caused a shower of dust-like particles to fly outwards through space, where it struck an unaware Iapetus full in the face.

"That's not completely implausible," Cruickshank said. If Iapetus "ran into a dust storm as it orbited around Saturn, the dust would be distributed the way we see it."

As to what the object might have been that struck Hyperion, Cruickshank notes that the same reddish gunk can also be found on other icy objects in the outer solar system, including other moons, Kuiper belt objects and comets.

#15 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » New Discoveries #5 - Deep space, galactic, solar system, etc. » 2007-05-22 13:03:27

A first:

Oberon occults Umbriel.  This is the first time ever we've recorded/observed such an event in the Uranian system.  Every 42 years Uranus has a "mutual event season"; the current runs until 2008.  Telescopes from California and Australia are in use.

This will help scientists better determine the moons' masses, the effects of Uranus on the shapes of their orbits, and to model surface features.  :blink:  There is quite a bit they can learn from distant occultations apparently -- (a star/Pluto occultation last year, and I'm still gobsmacked).

This event gives most insight into Uranian system since Voyager 2's 1986 flyby.

#16 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » Heliopolis *2* - ...Sun, Solar Science Cont'd... » 2007-05-22 12:54:08

Tracing Sol's Family Tree...

New research into the chemical composition of stars could identify our Sun's long lost family

They're examining 3 open clusters in our Galaxy.

Our Sun was born in an open cluster some 4.6 billion years ago, growing alongside its sibling stars like grapes on a vine

Aawwwww.  big_smile  I bet they were cute. 

Meteorites hold evidence for this close companionship in that they contain traces of the radioactive decay of the isotope Iron-60 which is only produced when a large star explodes in a supernova.


The VLT data obtained has now confirmed the stars in each open cluster have their own distinctive "flavor."

Ours tastes like chocolate.  big_smile  Or peach pie...

"The main result was that the member stars of each cluster shared the same chemical composition. Such chemical homogeneity is expected if all the stars are formed together within the same parent gas cloud..."

The preservation of chemical identity could one day enable the identification of the Sun's errant siblings. These stars lost touch with our own billions of years ago when our unstable open cluster dispersed

...and they don't even send postcards to each other.  :-\

but these stars cannot conceal their roots.

They can avoid gift exchanges, Thanksgiving and the annual family reunion picnic...but they cannot conceal their roots.  wink

Wherever in the galaxy they may now lurk, these stars will "taste" like our Sun and betray their origins in much the same way wines from a particular vineyard are unmistakable to an expert.


"To do this sort of 'chemical tagging' we need to have quality high resolution spectroscopic data. The upcoming ESA's GAIA mission will surely give a boost to testing these techniques, plus future high efficiency spectrographs on Extremely Large telescopes will also provide much of the required data..."

Happy hunting!


#17 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » SPHERES [cute!] » 2007-04-05 07:39:43

I don't recall having heard of these until now: … 70405.html

the bowling ball-sized objects are designed to test control algorithms for spacecraft by carrying out a series of unmanned rendezvous and docking maneuvers.

They look smaller than bowling-ball sized.

The knobby protrusions in their profile are tanks of pressurized carbon dioxide [schematic], which the satellites use for propulsion within the ISS.


A member of the three-astronaut Expedition 14 crew snapped this view of the SPHERES satellites in action during a March 24, 2007 test.

#18 Re: Human missions » More "altruists" to board the ISS! » 2007-04-05 06:09:01

Stella Felix dreams of space too: … index.html

I posted about her months ago.

No update yet.  No fanfare, except this single article.

But she's who cares about her dream of space, right?


#19 Re: Life on Mars » Mars warming up » 2007-04-04 15:46:13 … index.html

This can't be pinned on humans.  Seems it likely ties in with Earth's warming (natural causes within the Solar System -- or inner Solar System).

I wonder if Al Gore will opine on this.  roll

#20 Re: Human missions » More "altruists" to board the ISS! » 2007-04-04 06:51:05

From elsewhere, someone wrote: 

Money creates opportunities.

Yes, money can create opportunities.  But at least be HONEST about one's motives.

I have much more respect for someone like Gene Simmons (KISS) who flat-out and upfront admits he's a "selfish greedy a**hole" -- and calls himself that! -- than I do these Space Queens like Ansari, and two other female enterpreneurs who will soon board the ISS, who want everyone to believe they're truly altruists at heart who are spending $20 to $25 million apiece on themselves in order to inspire girls across the globe on to space.  roll  Which girls?  The thousands being sold into human trafficking sex slave rings/kiddie porn?  Girls dying of starvation and AIDS in Africa?  The girls being beaten and driven out of schools in Islamic states?

Anybody who picks up a guitar and tells you that there's some inner message that they're trying to convey . . . it's nonsense. They're not being honest. The reason they're doing this is they wanna get lots of chicks and they don't want to work for a living. -- Gene Simmons

Same principle.

Any wealthy person who stays aboard the ISS should upfront admit it's for themselves, their status and a desire to go down in the history books.  Otherwise don't expect me -- and others -- to be stupidly blinded by a fake Good Guy Badge.

#21 Re: Unmanned probes » New Horizons - mission to Pluto and the Kupier belt » 2007-04-03 07:51:21

Oh...that is lovely.  smile  Wow -- Tvashtar instantly grabs your eye.  Can see the red "speck" of lava too.  I'd wondered why Europa has such a night-side compared to Io. 

The night side of Io is illuminated here by light reflected from Jupiter, which is out of the frame to the right.  Europa's night side is completely dark, in contrast to Io, because that side of Europa faces away from Jupiter

Okie-doke.  tongue

The picture was one of a handful of the Jupiter system that New Horizons took primarily for their artistic, rather than scientific value.

It's all good.  big_smile

#22 Re: Human missions » More "altruists" to board the ISS! » 2007-04-03 07:25:08

Interestingly, these ladies are getting financial help to pay for their ISS stays. 

Yes, is "a milestone for womenkind."  Just like Ansari told us.  roll  They're benevolent altruists who want every little girl in the world to quit dreaming about castles and pretty ponies (and for many the desire for a full belly and an end to war)...and to dream of space instead.

Why don't these people just admit they're in it for THEMSELVES? 

The women are especially sickening in this regard.  Just admit you're as selfish and greedy as any man could be.

And that most girls will NOT achieve what these women have.  That's reality.

"We're spending $40 million on YOUR behalf."  lol  What a joke.

Go ahead -- while little girls across the globe dream of a full bowl of food.  Yeah, it's hard to dream of space when flies are crawling all over your face, you're drooling from heat exhaustion and you can't sleep because your stomach keeps growling.


#23 Re: Science, Technology, and Astronomy » Asteroid flyby -- March 30 (Americas favored) » 2007-03-29 06:43:52


ASTEROID FLYBY: Asteroid 2006 VV2 is about to fly past Earth. On March 30th around 11 pm PDT the 2 km-wide space rock will streak through the constellation Leo only 2 million miles away glowing like a 9th-to-10th magnitude star. This makes it an easy target for backyard telescopes with CCD cameras. Observers in the Americas are favored. … 6V02V.html

#24 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2007-03-28 06:10:55



"We've never seen anything like it on any other planet," says atmospheric scientist Kevin Baines of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is a hexagon twice as wide as Earth encircling Saturn's north pole. First observed by the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s, the hexagon has been sighted anew by the Cassini probe: … ageID=2549

Article attached to image says:

The strong brightness of the hexagon feature indicates that it is primarily a clearing in the clouds, which extends deep into the atmosphere, at least down to the 3-bar (3-Earth atmospheres pressure) level, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) below the clouds and hazes seen in visible wavelengths. Thick clouds border both sides of the narrow feature, as indicated by the adjacent dark lanes paralleling the bright hexagon.

In this infrared photo taken by Cassini's VIMS camera, the blue color traces auroras at high altitudes in Saturn's atmosphere. Red indicates the amount heat filtering up through clouds below. Researchers believe the auroras and the hexagon are unrelated.

The hexagon could be a distant cousin of Earth's polar vortex, but while Earth's vortex is a circle, Saturn's may be molded into a hexagon by some strange pattern of atmospheric waves. "Saturn's thick atmosphere where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure," says Baines. In short, it's a mystery."



#25 Re: Unmanned probes » Cassini-Huygens - NASA/ESA Saturn orbiter & Titan lander » 2007-03-23 15:54:20

Enceladus geysers mask the length of Saturn's day

In a David and Goliath story of Saturnian proportions, the little moon Enceladus is weighing down giant Saturn's magnetic field so much that the field is rotating slower than the planet. This phenomenon makes it nearly impossible to measure the length of the Saturn day using techniques that work at the other giant planets.

Hmmmmmm. … ladus.html

"No one could have predicted that the little moon Enceladus would have such an influence on the radio technique that has been used for years to determine the length of the Saturn day"

Once again Enceladus steals the limelight from Titan.  big_smile

Finding out the length of Saturn's day has been a challenge because the gaseous planet has no surface or fixed point to clock its rotation rate. Initially, the approach was to use periodic regular radio signals, as has been done for Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

However, Saturn's radio period has turned out to be troubling in two ways:  It seems to be a pulsed signal rather than a rotating, lighthouse-like beam. Secondly, the period seems to be slowly changing over months to years.

Maybe its extensive/complicated Rings are the difference?  Compared to Saturn, the other gas giants' rings are nothing.

Based on the new observations, scientists now think there are two possible reasons for the change in radio period. The first theory is that the geysers on Enceladus could be more active now than in Voyagers' time.


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