Friday, November 19, 2010

Saturn’s hex has people spell bound

The planet Saturn has a very large hexagon shaped structure at it North pole.

Some people insist that the hexagon shaped structure is not natural, even going so far as to say it was constructed by Aliens!

However, someone made a really cool video that explains how such a structure can come about. The key is to realize that Saturn's atmosphere is immense, it is much deeper that the width of the Earth and sits on top of an even deeper liquid layer – there are no continents or mountains to complicate things. It might help if you realize that the Earth has large scale atmospheric structures, but not so obvious from space – such as the jet streams of winds over 300 Kph. Not to mention hurricanes that are very visible. Now just imagine a much bigger planet like Saturn, without the complications of land masses...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jet Contrail Mistaken for a Secret Missile Launch!

A CBS news chopper filmed what they thought was the exhaust from a 'secret' missile launch, but it was actually the contrail of a jet. The fact that the missile was moving rather slowly seemed not to have caused them to have doubts!

I saw this mentioned first in a Bad Astronomy posting, and more in a follow-up, with a very detailed explanation complete with radar tracking data and 3d visualisation by a site that really specialises in analysing unusual contrails.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spectacular views of a Comet Nucleus

The solid heart of comet Hartley 2, looks rather like a dog's bone, quite different to what I would have expected a comet nucleus to look like! Conspiracy 'theorists', might think it looks like some kind of weird alien spaceship masquerading as a comet.

For more useful scientific information, and for some spectacular photograph, have a look at the following web sites: one at Bad Astronomy and the other at Astronomy Picture of the Day

The photographs were taken when the EPOXI mission spacecraft came close to it. You can plainly see jets of dust and gas squirting out from the roughened ends of the comet nucleus.

The mission is not just about science and pretty pictures, if a comet was likely to ever impact the Earth, then the more we understand comets, the better we could execute a mission to save the Earth.