Captain’s log, U.S.S. Enterprise, stardate 9529.1. This is the final cruise of the Starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man, where no one, …has gone before.
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
I distinctly remember sitting here listening to Carter prattle on about…
Best Han Solo cosplay ever…hands down.
TEN FAVORITE BSG RELATIONSHIPS
└ 06. Kara Thrace + Bill Adama
"What do you hear, Starbuck?"
"Nothing but the rain."
"Grab your gun and bring in the cat."
Do the thing to this video!
Here’s an amazing Doctor Who fan animation video by Richard Swarbrick that will make you want to go to YouTube to like and leave a comment to share the Whovian love.
Remember, don’t tell him we sent you!
Arthur and cold
“I’m sorry about that. I overreacted a bit. I’ve got two hot-water bottles, a dressing down and a coat load of thermals. I think we’re going to be fine. Well, I’m going to be fine.”
I SLOWED DOWN I AM THE DOCTOR TO 75% SPEED AND MY EARS ARE BLEEDING FROM BEAUTIFUL
(just a note its 8 minutes long but worth it especially towards the end)
Do you want to pretend you’re on a starship? By more than just engine sounds? Then do I have the YouTube channel for you!
I use white noise videos a lot lately to drown out my dad’s snoring, but oh my god this is the best.
YouTube user ender4lyfe has made a number of starship ambience white noise videos, but unlike other starship white noise videos, the sound is not just limited to the sound of the engine or warp core. They have included a multitude of other sound effects to make you really feel like you’re right there on the starship, including opening doors, button bloops, and even conversations among the crew in the background! In the Voyager Warp Core one (which is the one in the thumbnail), you can hear B’Elanna and Tom arguing quietly in the background, and in Ten Forward, you can hear Keiko talking about her day.
Included in the channel are:
- TOS USS Enterprise Bridge
- TNG USS Enterprise-D Bridge (+ extended version which is an hour long)
- TNG Ten Forward
- TNG USS Enterprise-D Engineering Warp Core
- TNG Cargo Bay
- VOY USS Voyager Bridge
- VOY USS Voyager Engineering Warp Core
- DS9 Infirmary
- DS9 Quark’s Bar (Busy Night)
- DS9 Quark’s Bar (Slow Night)
- DS9 Station OPS
Go forth and let your imagination soar, fellow officers (or foreign dignitaries, civilians, crew families, etc.)!
The ring that Kelley wore was a woman’s. It was won in a card game shortly after World War I by De’s uncle. He gave to his sister. When she died decades later, it was the only possession of hers that De wanted. When Gene Roddenberry hired De to play, Dr. McCoy, De insisted that “you can’t have me if I can’t have my ring,” and Roddenberry relented. What’s interesting is that in nuTrek, Karl Urban wore his Starfleet Academy ring on the pinky finger of his left hand, in tribute to Deforest Kelly.