Category Archives: In the News

Enceladus Occults Tethys

…but you only got to see it if you were riding the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn.

While browsing the latest raw images from Cassini, I found this image sequence shot on June 6th with the camera was pointed toward Enceladus which was approximately 3,904,788 kilometers away. Based on where Cassini was in it’s orbit I’m fairly certain the larger moon is Tethys, with the mid-point of the occultation occurring on June 6, around about 16:04 UT. I cropped and combined the images in Photoshop to create this short animation.

What confounded me at first was how we could be looking at almost the full night side of Enceladus and NOT Tethys. After looking at the orientation from a polar vantage point atop the Saturnian system I could see Tethys was about a quarter of the way into the sunward side of its orbit around Saturn. Enceladus was barely finishing the night side part it’s orbit. We are indeed seeing the night side of Tethys — lit by sunlight reflected off of Saturn.

Florida Fires

Just checking in. I haven’t not been able to take the scope out in quite some time due the heat, humidity and drought conditions we are experiencing here currently. I am however looking into some other Terragen Mars locations and I’ve finally had time to read a book I’d received last Christmans — “Coming of Age in the Milky Way” by Timothy Ferris. GREAT book! More on that when I finish it.

Here’s a look at today’s Florida fire data from the NOAA Satellite and Information System’s SSD Fire Detection Program. Fortunately for me I have not been in any danger as I live in a more urbanized area on the west coast east of I-275. The dots indicate fires while the large gray areas depict smoke coverage.

Click for larger

New Horizons Launch Attempt Today

Greetings and welcome back to the “Big Rocket Show.”

12:54 PM: So far so good.

– Announcing green for all weather constraints.
– Built in 10 minute hold coming up at T-4 minutes.
– Clouds need to thin a little or the launch will be delayed while they switch to a different weather configuration.

1:04 PM: No go due to cloud ceiling limits. Looking for launch at 1:13 PM EST

1:12 PM: Looking for launch at 1:30 PM EST

– Double checking launch path area cleared of all vessels
– Waiting on weather team to make the call

1:23 PM: Looking for launch at 1:40 PM EST

1:35 PM: Set indefinite hold.

I’m seeing even more low level clouds on the webcast here of NASA TV. You guys need a pack of matches or something?!?! You’re killing me! (I jest)

1:39 PM: Load design set 29 from balloon LR6 (updated weather profile).

1:46 PM: Looking for launch at 2:00 PM EST pending resolution of low clouds.

1:50 PM: Go for launch at 2:00 PM EST. Range observers have cleared the weather issues but will continue to monitor the cloud situation in real-time.

1:53 PM: All aspects of the support team have been polled and are go to resume the count T-4.

1:56 PM: The count has resumed. 4 minutes until launch and counting.

2:00 PM: LIFT OFF!

If you missed it Watch the Launch (7.5 MB) recorded from NASA TV as it happened.

You’ll need Apple – QuickTime to view this movie file.
Images and video in this post are screen grabs from NASA TV.

New Horizons Launch Scrubbed Again

NASA has scrubbed Wednesday’s launch attempt of the New Horizons spacecraft due to an unresolved power outage.

A major power outage in Maryland — including the Applied Physics Laboratory where the critcal Mission Operations Center is located — has postponed today’s launch.

The next attempt is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19 during the window extending from 1:08 PM EST to 3:07 PM EST.

I’ll be up until about 4 AM again tomorrow morning so at least I get to take my nap today! 🙂