Added 1 new A* page:A friend of mine pointed me over to this new NASA article with some analysis of the big white storm on Saturn that started in 2010. Such storms only happen every 30 years or so on Saturn, and this is the first one we've been able to observe up close, thanks to the Cassini probe orbiting the gas giant. The storm, which covered a range of latitude on Saturn as tall as North America and grew to wrap around the entire planet, dissipated in 2011; you can see the still large remnants as a bright swirly red and yellow cloud band in the upper part of this false-color Cassini photo from that year:|
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (source)
Crunching Cassini's readings of the storm shows that it was up to 150 degrees warmer than normal for Saturn's stratosphere; it also contained vast amounts of ethylene gas, which normally isn't seen on Saturn--its origin is a mystery.
The NASA article has some more info and a partially goofy movie about the storm, and this A* article from last November has a time-lapse photo sequence showing the storm's year-and-a-half lifespan.
The Guardian just posted a pretty cool Voyager 1 and 2 photo gallery, with some great photos from the creation, launch, and early solar system exploration of those two space probes--now pushing the known boundaries of our solar system--from their youthful days back in the 70's and 80's. I got the link from this tumblr post.
I ran across a blog article thing about a NASA proposal to use solar electric propulsion to explore the inner solar system; solar electric propulsion, or "SEC," works by "generating electric power from solar arrays which is used to give a positive electric charge to atoms inside a chamber which are thrust out by magnets." This would allow spacecraft to have a long active lifespan; the trick is to find a way to generate the sufficient power from solar panels.
Tried staying loose with today's page--thought I got a little too uptight with parts of Val yesterday. :P