02 - Full Moon
at 19:14 UT
05 - Taurid
(south) meteor shower peaks. Active
between 25 Sept and 25 Nov.
Associated with Comet 2P/Encke.
09 - Moon near
Mars (morning sky) at 14h UT. Mag. +0.3.
12 -Taurid (north) meteor
shower peaks. May produce the occasional
17 -Leonid meteor shower
peaks at 9h UT. Arises from debris ejected
Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1533. Expect about 25
to 30 meteors per hour under
dark skies. Predictions of enhanced activity
between 21-22h UT on 17 Nov
(favours sky watchers in Asia).
21 -Alpha Monocerotid meteor
shower peaks at 15:25 UT. A usually minor
shower active 15-25 Nov. Radiant is near Procyon.
Predictions of enhanced
activity this year. Timing favours Far East
Asia, Australia and across the
Pacific to Alaska.
00 0 0
0 0 0//
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Monday, January 24, 2005
Methane Rainfalls on the Super-cold Titan
When it rains on Earth, it pours water, but on Titan, it pours liquid methane...liquid natural gas. At least that's the resulting data collected by Huygens probe, a little spacecraft that plunged into the smog-shrouded moon from its Saturn orbitting mothership, Cassini spacecraft last week. A press confrence held by ESA Huygens teams verified the previous theory on the existance of liquid hydrocarbons or methane in large quantity on the orange-tinted moon. The pictures released by ESA indicated that there's a liquid pool-like region nearby the Huygens landing site. Also, it's depicting a liquid flowing region or channel that spills into a vast dark region, probably a riverbed with some sort of liquidity on it. It's said by one of the team member that there was methane rain two days before Huygens touched down at the landing site. It's from analysis of the instrument attached to the bottom of the lander that analyze the structure of solid surface, the liquid methane was just percipated down to the surface and a few inches away from the lander. Wow the lander was a bit late to grasp the moment.
Well, It's quite fascinating to see this facts. More data and pictures from ESA are highly anticipated for sure by Space anthusiasts. I think the unveiling secrets of Titan is getting more exciting to watch in the coming days. I do hope there will be a future lander mission, like Spirit and Opportunity rovers that's still roaming the surface of Mars, on this alien world.
Finally, after 8 years planning plus 7 years journey of 2 billions km, Huygens probe designed by European Space Agency descended flawlessly to Titan surface. First images of Titan have been sent back by the Cassini mothership. The pictures are stunning, breathtaking, unbelievable experience to look at this alien world. The first three pictures published on ESA website shows a very interesting and alluring landscape. Drainage channels was seen there, cut by a dark region, possibly by an ocean. The proof on the existance of seas of liquid methane on Titan becames stronger although it needs few days by the science teams to conclude it because it requires more pictures and data from 5 other science instruments on board of Huygens to analyze this. The Huygens probe released from its mothership, Cassini, on December 25 and took 20 days for the piggy-backed lander to reach the surface. The Huygens had to penetrate the Titan's murky atmoshphere, one and half thicker than Earth's atmoshphere. Three parachutes was used to slow down the descent speed and jettisoned on different altitude. At first, scientist did not know what kind of surface the probe will land on. It is because the science team cannot determine it from the space and Earth-based telescope. The thickness of atmoshphere that enveloped the hazy moon has hindered them. But now after one picture beamed back by the spacecraft, it clearly shows it landed on a solid surface not on methane ocean. This prolonged short life of the probe after landing. The probe transmitted scientific data for 5 hours after landing, 3 hours more than the science team thought, until the signal received by Cassini faded away and died. Well, I just want to congratulate to the Huygens team and all of the Cassini-Huygens mission teams. I respect their brilliant work. It will open up a new horizon of our understanding on where we are living in now. Hopefully, any upcoming space missions will follow their predecessors, like Cassini-Huygens mission.
Oort cloud, is a postulated spherical cloud
of comets situated about 50,000 to 100,000 AU from
the Sun. This is approximately 1000 times the distance
from the Sun to Pluto or roughly one light year, almost
a quarter of the distance from the Sun to Proxima
Centauri, the star nearest the Sun. The Oort cloud
would have its inner disk at the ecliptic from the
Kuiper belt. Although no direct observations have
been made of such a cloud, it is believed to be the
source of most or all comets entering the inner solar
system (some short-period comets may come from the
Kuiper belt), based on observations of the orbits
of comets. Source: Wikipedia