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Old 08-09-2009, 05:05 PM   #1
Undertoad
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Aug 10, 2009: One of Saturn's rings damaged



The Discover magazine Bad Astronomy blog says it far better than I could:
Quote:
Deep in the outer realms of our solar system, well over a billion kilometers away, something bizarre happened at Saturn’s F ring.

I mean, seriously: what the hell happened here?

This is one of the latest pictures returned from the remarkable human achievement that is the Cassini spacecraft, a probe the size of a school bus that has been orbiting the ringed planet since 2004. It’s returned one incredible picture after another, and lately — as Saturn’s orbit has brought it to a point where the rings are nearly edge-on to the Sun — things have gotten not only spectacular but also really weird.
...
It’s not exactly clear what’s going on here, even in this slightly zoomed shot. But it looks for all the world - or worlds — like some small object on an inclined orbit has punched through Saturn’s narrow F ring, bursting out from underneath, and dragging behind it a wake of particles from the rings.
The blog entry goes on to be very excited, because it's not easy to explain the event. Why does the thing apparently drag so much of the ring along with it? Why is the drag brighter at the bottom?

We don't know how often this sort of thing happens, because we haven't been watching all that long. I guess after it's all been analyzed, we'll have a clearer understanding of the rings. Who knew they were made of gelatin?
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Old 08-09-2009, 06:40 PM   #2
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It's like the elastic in underwear. Looks like something snagged there.
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Last edited by Pie; 08-09-2009 at 07:37 PM. Reason: can't spell, damnit
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Old 08-09-2009, 07:00 PM   #3
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Does anyone have any ideas about what the implications might be? Do they matter or is it just knowledge building?
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:11 PM   #4
Leokins
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I know! I know! It's an alien spaceship!
Somebody had to suggest it
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:18 PM   #5
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Oh crap!
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:09 PM   #6
TheMercenary
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It means that the thing that hit it has now been deflected from its trajectory and is now headed straight for Philly, PA.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:34 PM   #7
Elspode
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Whatever it is, it is casting a shadow on the rings. Most impressive.

Footfall is one of my favorite Niven/Pournelle books.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:00 AM   #8
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SHEEEELLLLDON???!!!!
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:00 AM   #9
SPUCK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspode View Post
Footfall is one of my favorite Niven/Pournelle books.
With the worst give away the entire book with one glance at the cover, cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMercenary View Post
its trajectory and is now headed straight for Philly, PA.
Don't you mean the Hudson River?
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SPUCK View Post
Don't you mean the Hudson River?
He must be deep in denial.
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:29 AM   #11
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This may explain the plane/copter crash over the Hudson.
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Old 08-10-2009, 08:52 AM   #12
Madman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casimendocina View Post
Does anyone have any ideas about what the implications might be? Do they matter or is it just knowledge building?
we're all gonna die...

2012 was a lie. The Mayans just ran out of... of... whatever they used to scrawl their fib with.

Fucking Mayans.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:56 AM   #13
dar512
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenGum View Post
He must be deep in denial.
You've got your geography mixed up. Denial is a river in Egypt.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:12 PM   #14
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[fundy]
It's a smudge from God's finger!
[/fundy]
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dar512 View Post
My exact thought. I mean, it's even the F-Ring!

Time to build that bunker.
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