TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saturn. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cassini's End at Saturn


"This image of Saturn's northern hemisphere was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth before its mission-ending plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017." Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute via Space.com.

Launched 15 October 1997, NASA's Cassini–Huygens mission ended on 15 September 2017 as Cassini - the Saturn orbiter - entered Saturn's atmosphere at 11:53 UTC (7:53 a.m. EDT or 4:53 a.m. PDT). In 2005, the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon, Titan, on a beach which had the consistency of crème brûlée. From Stargazer's Nation:
"As planned, the Cassini spacecraft impacted the upper atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, after a 13 year long exploration of the Saturnian System. With spacecraft thrusters firing until the end, its atmospheric entry followed an unprecedented series of 22 Grand Finale dives between Saturn and rings. Cassini's final signal took 83 minutes to reach planet Earth and the Deep Space Network antenna complex in Canberra Australia where loss of contact with the spacecraft was recorded at 11:55 UT. For the spacecraft, Saturn was bright and the Sun was overhead as it plowed into the gas giant planet's swirling cloud tops at about 70,000 miles (113,000 kilometers) per hour. But Cassini's final image shows the impact site hours earlier and still on the planet's night side, the cloud tops illuminated by ringlight, sunlight reflected from Saturn's rings."
NASA's full gallery from Cassini's grand finale is here. You can see highlights of Cassini's photos of Saturn and its moons, herehere, here, and here. It is the end of a scientific era and the start of a new one. After twenty years of exploration of Saturn, attention now turns to Jupiter.

Cassini's last photo shows Saturn's atmosphere. Click to enlarge. Image Source: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute via Gizmodo.

Video Source: NASA via Weather Network.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Exoplanets In Kepler's Eye


Click to enlarge. Image Source: Stellarium.

I have the free program Stellarium on my computer and set it to show the night sky on my computer while I am reading. I turned on the 'exoplanets' option and jumped! What are those alien green blobs? In the screenshot above, the green circular grid near Vega in the night sky shot for 4 May 2017 shows where the Kepler space telescope has focussed, with corresponding discoveries of exoplanets. They are marked as bright green dots. There is another cluster of exoplanets in the bottom corner in the constellation of Sagittarius, by the star Alnasl and the planet Saturn.



Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope trails Earth in a heliocentric orbit. NASA's Kepler and K2 projects have yielded several thousand exoplanets, of which 21 are almost habitable like Earth. A list of the projects' news releases is here. On 20 April 2017, the lead Kepler scientists were included among Time's 100 most influential individuals in the world:
"Three extraordinary planet-hunters have been recognized by TIME Magazine as this year’s top 100 most influential people: Natalie Batalha from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; Michael Gillon from the University of Liège in Belgium; and Guillem Anglada-Escudé from the Queen Mary University in London.

'It is truly exciting to see these planet-hunters among the other movers and the shakers of the world,' said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics division director at Headquarters in Washington. 'These scientists have transformed the world’s understanding of our place in the universe, and NASA congratulates them for their well-deserved recognition.'"
Later in 2017, players of the MMPORG game, EVE Online, are participating in the crowd-sourced scientific discoveries of Kepler exoplanets. Raw Kepler data will be added to the game.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

No Relief from the Heavens


From Sichuan, China: Share the Night With You. Image Source (12 August 2015) © Xiaoshan Huang via TWAN. Reproduced non-commercially under Fair Use.

Bombings in Lahore, Pakistan and Brussels were intended to disrupt Easter. Terror cells responsible for the Belgian bombings planned to kill Easter worshippers in churches in the UK and across Europe. There is an unconfirmed rumour on the Internet that ISIS crucified a Catholic priest, Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, on Good Friday in Yemen. In response to news like this, I always used to take personal comfort in astronomy and beautiful photos like the ones from The World at Night at the top and bottom of this post, because astronomy gives the biggest, most objective perspective on these questions. Unfortunately, astronomy is a secular study of the universe which drags us back into religious map of the human mind.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Planet Walkers


Press imagery for the BBC series, Voyage to the Planets (2004). Image Source: BBC.

For today, here are two fictional Youtube videos on what it would be like for astronauts to walk on the surfaces of Venus and Pluto. The clips are modified, taken from the 2004 BBC TV series, Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets. This award-winning, fake-umentary series speculated on what a manned exploration of the solar system would be like:
Five astronauts pilot the nuclear thermal rocket powered Pegasus spacecraft on a tour of the solar system. Their mission is a collaboration of the NASA, CSA, ESA and РКА space agencies and takes the crew to Venus, Mars, a close flyby of the Sun, Jupiter’s moon[s] Io and Europa, Saturn, Pluto, and the fictional Comet Yano-Moore. Most of the planetary destinations the crew reaches are followed by a manned landing there. Prior to the mission large tanks of hydrogen were deposited in stable orbits around the planets to allow the crew to refuel to have sufficient delta-v for the multi-year mission.

The crew encounter many hardships and disappointments along the way. A Venus EVA that almost ends in disaster when the lander Orpheus encounters launch delays, the near-loss of the shield during the aerobrake in Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the loss of samples from Jupiter's moon Io all test the crew's resolve. The most devastating blow comes when the ship's medical officer dies of solar radiation-induced lymphoma in Saturn orbit, forcing the crew to decide whether to continue the mission to Pluto, or abort and return to Earth. In the original British release, the crew decides to press on to Pluto, making history. The American version, broadcast on The Science Channel, was trimmed for length, the crew deciding to turn back at this stage rather than continue. The programme is narrated by David Suchet.
I don't know how long the links will last, but the series is up in parts on Youtube and another link is on Vimeo:

Voyage to the Planets still (2004). Image Source: BBC via The Space Review.

Voyage to the Planets (2004) concept art by Daren Horley. Image Source: The Rogue Verbumancer.

The Youtuber who posted the Venusian clip argues:
Theoretically , we can build VENUS SPACE SUIT. "Chief Navy Diver Daniel Jackson (US Navy) holds the depth record using an ADS. On August 1, 2006 he was submerged at 2,000 feet (610 m) deep off the coast of La Jolla, California." Venusian pressure is an equivalent to a 1-km-deep water ocean. Pressure isn't even the biggest problem , the biggest problem is temperature and acid in atmosphere. But if we landed on the highest mountain Maxwell Montes, conditions would be much more better: pressure - equivalent to a approx. 325 m(!) in ocean , temp. 650 F (+343 C). We can create suits made of titanium [melting point is more than 1,650 °C or 3,000 °F] and use basalt-based fiber technology with a thermal range of -260 C to +982 C (1800 F) and melt point of 1450 C . The biggest problem is to create corrosion resistant coating and effective cooling system. 

Atmospheric diving suit (2006), a potential precursor for a Venusian spacesuit.
Image Source: U.S. Navy photo / Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chelsea Kennedy via Wiki.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Photo of the Day: Tethys


Image Source: NASA.

Today, from NASA, a photo from 22 July 2005: "Seen from ice moon Tethys, rings and shadows would play across fantastic views of the Saturnian system. Haven't dropped in on Tethys lately? Then this gorgeous ringscape from the Cassini spacecraft will have to do for now. Caught in sunlight just below and left of picture center, Tethys itself is about 1,000 kilometers in diameter and orbits not quite five saturn-radii from the center of the gas giant planet. At that distance (around 300,000 kilometers) it is well outside Saturn's main bright rings, but Tethys is still one of five major moons that find themselves within the boundaries of the faint and tenuous outer E ring. Discovered in the 1980s, two very small moons Telesto and Calypso are locked in stable locations along Tethys' orbit. Telesto precedes and Calypso follows Tethys as the trio circles Saturn." (Hat tip: Starship Asterisk.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Photo of the Day: Persistent Saturnian Auroras


Image Source: J. Clarke (Boston U.) & Z. Levay (STScI), ESA, NASA.

From NASA:
"Persistent Saturnian Auroras - Are Saturn's auroras like Earth's? To help answer this question, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini spacecraft monitored Saturn's South Pole simultaneously as Cassini closed in on the gas giant in January 2004. Hubble snapped images in ultraviolet light, while Cassini recorded radio emissions and monitored the solar wind. Like on Earth, Saturn's auroras make total or partial rings around magnetic poles. Unlike on Earth, however, Saturn's auroras persist for days, as opposed to only minutes on Earth. Although surely created by charged particles entering the atmosphere, Saturn's auroras also appear to be more closely modulated by the solar wind than either Earth's or Jupiter's auroras. The above sequence shows three Hubble images of Saturn each taken two days apart."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Photo of the Day: The Dark Side of Saturn


Image Source: NASA via Yahoo.

Today, NASA released a photograph of Saturn, comprising many images of the planet which were taken this summer. The image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across. You can see Saturn's moons and several planets, including Earth, labeled (here or here) at NASA's site. This photo is true to colour, taken of the planet's dark side, with Saturn eclipsing out a view of the Sun. From Yahoo:
This is a mosaic of 141 wide-angle images taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft back on July 19th [2013]. If you recall, that was the date that Cassini was snapping a new 'Pale Blue Dot' image, to rival the one taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft back in 1990. Well, this is essentially the same image, but it's been adjusted to be as close to a true-colour image as possible. Therefore, Saturn and its rings look just as they would if you were standing on the deck of a spaceship, looking out a window as you flew around the dark side of the ringed planet.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Of Moons and Hobbits


Still from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Image Source: Collider.

It may surprise some that space colonization is already in the planning stages. Earlier today, India launched its Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan ('Mars craft'), due to arrive at the Red Planet next year, as part of the new Asian space race. See coverage at Spaceports here.There is great interest in the vast resources of space (see my earlier posts here and here), especially Saturn's moon Titan (see bitcoin chatter here). Long before we possess the ability to reach and inhabit interplanetary destinations, the spacefaring countries of the world are mapping and naming them (the relevant UN document regarding space exploration and colonization, the Moon Treaty, is here). See comments on interplanetary territorial claims here and here.

Map of Titan (click to enlarge). Image Source: Europlanet.

According to Wiki, the "International Astronomical Union names all colles (small hills) on ... Titan after characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's work. In 2012, they named a hilly area 'Bilbo Colles' after Bilbo Baggins." You can see the Astronomical Union record for the hill here and current maps of the moon, here, here and here. Rarely have the frontiers of the old legends, modern imagination, and the future so clearly overlapped.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fountain of Youth 14: Embrace Your Immortality

Get me outta here. Image Source: Digital Journal.

People are so literal-minded these days. The staunchly faithful believe the end is nigh. The staunchly un-faithful believe the end is not nigh. Either way, the new Millennium's opposing camps of the very religious and the very atheistic seek exactly the same goal: immortality. The irony in this fact - that those who go in for the apocalypse are on the same page as those who go in for the technological singularity - derives from an excess of literal-mindedness.

Here is an example of Millennial literal-mindedness, from a Gen X neuroscientist at Harvard who is attempting to figure out how to download his consciousness onto a computer interface so that he can live forever. From a Chronicle of Higher Education report:
In the basement of the Northwest Science Building here at Harvard University, a locked door is marked with a pink and yellow sign: "Caution: Radioactive Material." Inside researchers buzz around wearing dour expressions and plastic gloves. Among them is Kenneth Hayworth. ...

Hayworth has spent much of the past few years in a windowless room carving brains into very thin slices. He is by all accounts a curious man, known for casually saying things like, "The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body." He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes.

Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever.

But first he has to die.

"If your body stops functioning, it starts to eat itself," he explains to me one drab morning this spring, "so you have to shut down the enzymes that destroy the tissue." If all goes according to plan, he says cheerfully, "I'll be a perfect fossil." Then one day, not too long from now, his consciousness will be revived on a computer. By 2110, Hayworth predicts, mind uploading—the transfer of a biological brain to a silicon-based operating system—will be as common as laser eye surgery is today.

It's the kind of scheme you expect to encounter in science fiction, not an Ivy League laboratory. But little is conventional about Hayworth, 41, a veteran of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a self-described "outlandishly futuristic thinker." While a graduate student at the University of Southern California, he built a machine in his garage that changed the way brain tissue is cut and imaged in electron microscopes. The combination of technical smarts and entrepreneurial gumption earned him a grant from the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, a subsidiary of the McKnight Foundation, and an invitation to Harvard, where he stayed, on a postdoctoral fellowship, until April.

To understand why Hayworth wants to plastinate his own brain you have to understand his field—connectomics, a new branch of neuroscience. A connectome is a complete map of a brain's neural circuitry. Some scientists believe that human connectomes will one day explain consciousness, memory, emotion, even diseases like autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's—the cures for which might be akin to repairing a wiring error. In 2010 the National Institutes of Health established the Human Connectome Project, a $40-million, multi-institution effort to study the field's medical potential.

Among some connectomics scholars, there is a grand theory: We are our connectomes. Our unique selves—the way we think, act, feel—is etched into the wiring of our brains. Unlike genomes, which never change, connectomes are forever being molded and remolded by life experience. Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent proponent of the grand theory, describes the connectome as the place where "nature meets nurture."

Hayworth takes this theory a few steps further. He looks at the growth of connectomics—especially advances in brain preservation, tissue imaging, and computer simulations of neural networks—and sees something else: a cure for death. In a new paper in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, he argues that mind uploading is an "enormous engineering challenge" but one that can be accomplished without "radically new science and technologies."
Extreme literal-mindedness boils immortality down to an "enormous engineering challenge." The connectome idea also has a metaphysical side. The connectome curiously reworks the concept of fate. This is a really seductive concept in a troubled (or if one prefers, fallen) world: a proposal to alter destiny on the cellular, genetic, atomic, and sub-atomic levels. Change destiny, whether it comes from nature or nurture, like changing a spark plug.

The article paints Hayworth as a dedicated figure, a futurist ahead of his time. And in that regard, he is a great visionary. His work may inadvertently cure terrible diseases or vastly expand our grasp of neural, or even cerebral, processes. But these would be incidental to his primary aim to 'cure' us of death. There is no moment where Hayworth stops and asks: should we be immortal? If death is hard-wired into every living thing on the planet, and even non-living things die, then maybe death exists for a good reason? Maybe it is the lynchpin in the order of the universe? Aside from the possibility that an immortal human could be horrifying, perhaps conquering death would destroy the balance of nature? I am not talking about hocus-pocus. Nor am I talking about cells and synapses, genes and enzymes. I am talking about the purpose of death, which we do not understand. There is a purpose for death in the universe, because even galaxies die. For Hayworth, these are non-issues:
One hundred years from now, he believes, our descendants will not understand how so many of us failed for so long to embrace immortality. In an unpublished essay, "Killed by Bad Philosophy," he writes, "Our grandchildren will say that we died not because of heart disease, cancer, or stroke, but instead that we died pathetically out of ignorance and superstition"—by which he means the belief that there is something fundamentally unknowable about consciousness, and that therefore it can never be replicated on a computer. ...

My [The Chronicle reporter's] conversations with Hayworth took place over several months, and I was struck by how his optimism often gave way to despair. "I've become jaded about whether brain preservation will happen in my lifetime," he told me at one point. "I see how much pushback I get. Even most neuroscientists seem to believe that there is something magical about consciousness—that if the brain stops, the magic leaves, and if the magic leaves, you can't bring the magic back."

I asked him if the scope of his ambitions ever gives him pause. If he could achieve immortality, might it usher in a new set of problems, problems that we can't even imagine? "Here's what could happen," he said. "We're going to understand how the brain works like we now understand how a computer works. At some point, we might realize that the stuff we hold onto as human beings—the idea of the self, the role of mortality, the meaning of existence—is fundamentally wrong."

Lowering his voice, he continued. "It may be that we learn so much that we lose part of our humanity because we know too much." He thought this over for a long moment. "I try not to go too far down that road," he said at last, "because I feel that I would go mad."
Yes. Madness arrives, on schedule, when science heads too far into the outer reaches without support. Hayworth may see philosophers as part of the problem. But it looks like he needs one or two of them to watch his back. It does not matter whether you think the world was created by a divine being (or beings) who set in motion a grand battle between the forces of good and evil - or that the universe (or multiverses) exploded in the Big Bang and can be rationally dissected. The real cultural and historically relevant Millennial phenomenon across the board is a literal-mindedness about everything that formerly belonged to the realm of mystery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Remembering Jack Horkheimer


Today, Jack Horkheimer would have turned 74. Happy Birthday to a dear and sadly departed man. From the mid-1970s to mid-2000s, he captured something of the best of that era, a hopeful, optimistic fascination with science, merged with the infinite possibilities of imagination (see, here, here, here and here). By contrast now, information is everywhere, but there is much less wonder.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Photo of the Day: Saturn and Friends

Image Source: NASA.

This is: Saturn and two of its moons, Titan (foreground) and Prometheus (dot in the background, just above one of the rings). Hat tip: Lee Hamilton. Titan, incidentally, is larger than the planet, Mercury; it is the largest of Saturn's 62 moons.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Anniversaries: Landing on Titan

The first picture "from the surface of a planetary body outside the inner Solar system." 2005 © NASA/ESA/ASI. Image Source: Wiki.

Today is the sixth anniversary since the phenomenal landing on Saturn's moon, Titan, during the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft mission to study the Saturnine systemThis is just one of the great scientific achievements of our era that is of epic importance. The mission was a joint NASA, ESA and ASI initiative. The NASA site is here. The ESA site on the mission is here and the ASI site is here. There is a good NASA video on the landing, with views of the moon as Huygens landed on it, here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Retro-futurism 4: Russians in Space


Russian drama set on one of Saturn's moons. Техника Молодежи (Youth Technics), Russia (1954).

Retro Soviet space art!  I ran across this collection on Dark Roasted Blend via Brain Release Valve (blog names~!).  First published in 1933, the magazine Техника Молодежи, or "TM," has long specialized in innovations, space, fantasy, new appliances, scientific inventions.  Its home website is here. A blurb on it here describes it as the source of inspiration for generations of scientists who grew up reading it.

Socialist Space Workers, Техника Молодежи (Youth Technics), Russia (1973).