Cool planetary facts [awesome pictures and info]

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ninja08hippie, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    I think it would be fun to do some cool tidbits about each planet over the next couple of days since a lot of people seem to be following the current Mars mission that just started. Each day I'll post a few facts about a planet or two and it might stir up some fun intellectual discussions :) Plus I'll add a gorgeous photograph or two of each.





    Saturn:
    Saturn's rings are fairly young, and will likely erode away to the point of the other gas planets' rings.

    It's rings are a mere 65 feet thick.

    The day of the week Saturday is named after it.

    It's calm appearance is a methane haze that hide some of the most violent storms in the solar system.

    Saturn is the only other planet to have an earth-like hurricane in the meteorological sense; it's on it's south pole. The eye lets scientists see deep within saturn like a tunnel.

    There is a storm on its north pole that is a nearly geometrically perfect hexigon, and it never moves, it is just an excellent example of raw mathematics in execution.

    It's been visited five times by human-built spacecraft. The Cassini spacecraft is still in orbit around it, it sent a probe to land on one of it's moons: Titan.

    Check out a beautiful photograph of it's intricate rings and shadows with one of its many moons:
    [​IMG]

    It has intense auroras:
    [​IMG]

    It hosts the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere. This moon (Titan) is also the only moon to ever be landed on besides our own, here is a picture from its surface. Titan is the size of the planet Mercury and it's surface is nearly identical to earth's minus the volcanism, this is because it has massive lakes of methane that shape it as much as water carves our own. One of the reasons that it was landed on was because it's nearly identical to a primordial earth, but in a frozen state.
    [​IMG]

    The reason that water is so important for life is because almost all of the chemical processes that are required for everything requires a bipolar liquid, which is rare, water is one of the only ways for this to happen, the other theoretical possibility for those processes is with liquid nitrogen instead, which appears present in Titans atmosphere. It has been shown that those ingredients + sunlight do produce amino acids. There is an outside chance that life exists there.

    One of Saturn's smaller moons, only 300km across has water geysers erupting from it. The tidal heating from its orbit around Saturn has the possibility of creating liquid water. These geysers feed one of Saturn's rings. By scientific standards it is the whitest object in the solar system, that is because it is covered in freshly fallen snow which hardens into ice.
     
    #1 ninja08hippie, Oct 2, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  2. justaniceguy

    justaniceguy Member

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    cool pics,
     
  3. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    Fun discussion point: if we find life in the solar system, then it would strongly suggest that life may be quite common in the universe and it might be worth putting more effort into searching to see the possibilities for other civilizations out there. We are a relatively young civilization in a very old galaxy. If life was abundant in the galaxy, then it is likely that civilizations formed millions of years ago, imagine what we could do with a million years worth of technology. We must be curious yet cautious of possible friendly and enemy threats out there.


    Thanks justaniceguy. I love art and I think photographing the planets is one of more fascinating artistic photographs because they are the hardest to get as well as breathtaking.
     
    #3 ninja08hippie, Oct 2, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  4. igor

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    Thanks for that post NJ. My neighbor had an 8 inch scope and we'd spend a lot of time looking at Saturn. Wish I had a digital camera back then.
     
  5. CosmicEye

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    Saturn has always been a favorite and I was all over Cassini. The hexagon pole is the most intriguing aspects of it. Neptune has stronger winds because its further from the sun (in theory), 1000mph+ regularly I think it was, and just as violent weather and seemingly permanent storms like Jupiter's spots.

    I went to a presentation about a mission to visit to Pluto and 3 known moons, but dam if I dodnt forget what it was called. It will be when Pluto is almost as close as it gets to the Sun, inside of Neptune's orbit which means it will has a gaseous atmosphere. The theories presented about the nature of the atmosphere and how it gets there had solid evidence and sensible ideas behind it. Very excited to see close up pics of the demoted dwarf planet.
     
  6. lbushwalker

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    Great post Ninja :)
     
  7. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    Side note: Today is the 55th anniversary of the USSR's launch of Sputnik, the first human made satellite.

    Jupiter
    By a wide margin the biggest planet in our solar system, but not the known universe.

    It's great red spot is a storm 3 times the diameter of Earth that has existed for at least 300 years.
    [​IMG]

    It is named for the King of the Gods.

    7 spacecraft have done flybys of it, and one spacecraft called Galileo went into orbit around it in 1995 and stayed there until it was purposefully directed into the planet in 2003, they did this to avoid it crashing into one of it's moons and contaminating them.

    Galileo, on it's way to Jupiter, discovered the first moon around an asteroid, the min asteroid is called Ida, and it's tiny moon: Dactyl
    [​IMG]

    It has four large moons, nearly as large as planets, most interesting to scientists is Europa:
    [​IMG]

    Europa is covered in water ice, and has a 700 mile thick liquid water ocean underneath it, as well as internal heating and volcanism that keeps it liquid and circulates materials. The red crisscrosses on it's surface are where the ice cracked and water came up and froze, it is red because of amino acids that are likely created by microbial life. It is the most likely place in the solar system to find life.
     
    #7 ninja08hippie, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  8. Everett_Spair

    Everett_Spair Member

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    If you're interested in celestial objects and formations I can recommend this youtube channel.
    Deep Sky Videos - YouTube