Saturday - according to the Titan entry in the online Wiki Encyclopedia
for Titan there may be a hot core. It doesn't say if it's heating due
to tidal stress or radioactives, but the moon (it's bigger than the planet
Mercury) could be warm enough for methane worms, inside. And down at
the bottom are quite a few links for Titan in fiction.
Friday - METHANE WORMS ON TITAN! Well, no, I just made that up. But some of the data has been looked at and details are coming out. It does indeed rain methane on Titan. Which got me to thinking. We know that worms can live in methane ice
here on earth - I wonder if they could survive the cold on Titan?
Probably not on the surface, but does it get warmer below the surface?
I found this link, by accident. Hilary Hahn. No relation, as far as I know. [via Terry Teachout]
I didn't feel 100% this morning, but went out to breakfast with some friends. After which I felt a lot less well. Three hours later I'm just headachy and nauseous. Limited posting.
After a discussion with a friend (Tim), on Wednesday I installed
Sitemeter at the bottom of the page. I told him that as far as I knew
only two people read this regularly - him and my dad. As of this
writing this three days the sitemeter has not yet reached double digits. Counting him, my dad and myself, and multiplying by three days...yep, nine is just about right.
It's a bit depressing - even though I just do this for fun, still...
I've been offered a free truckload of ****. No, really.
All I have to do is shovel it.
Pictures to follow.
- Titan Still Rules! I just recalled that I have some original artwork on my wall - Saturn as seen from Titan. My sister bought it for me as a gift. The picture is signed R. Cutten, 1979. Apparently this was before anyone realized what a thick atmosphere Titan has. I think that's neat, makes it more unique.
Wednesday - more Titan stuff!!
Well, kinda, sorta. It occurred to me a couple of days ago that the
Huygen's images looked at lot like many other "first landing" images. I even
went so far as to grab a Venera 13 image to compare with, though I
hadn't yet put it up. Then, today, over at Andrew Lloyd's Pathetic Earthlings there was a quote from a San Francisco Chronicle article by one Peter Hartlaub to somewhat the same effect.
"While children once huddled in front of their radios and television
sets, waiting for the latest updates on the fates of heroes such as
John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, modern space missions all seem to end
the same way: with indistinct pictures of orange rocks."
Reading the article I'm not sure what Hartlaub is getting at. Maybe
he's just a Dave Barry want to be? He suggests that space exploration be made more
exciting but mocks those that find it interesting already. Perhaps he
thinks that an organization that spends billions on a space probe should just keep quiet and not say anything when they successfully land on a moon billions of miles away?
I think that perhaps he should stick to reviewing video games and doing his 'pop culture critic' shtick.
It's just a mildly derogatory article, but it has impelled me to put up
some first images from the Moon, Venus, and Mars - though I doubt any children
had their noses pressed up against the teevee for these landings.
Here, rotated, cropped and processed to accentuate
the similarities to the Huygen's lander, are shots from the Moon,
Venus, Mars and Saturn. Just lots of rocks, if, like Hartlaub, that is a far as your imagination can reach.
Click on any picture to get more details about what many others consider extraordinary images.
A Soviet Luna 9 image from the Moon,
landing in January 1966.
A Soviet Venera 9 image from Venus,
landing on 22 October 1975.
An American Viking 1 image from Mars,
landing 23 July 1976.
I should point out that the Venus image here is far better than the
original rather grainy originals. Don Mitchell found the original soviet6-bit data
and used modern image processing techniques to vastly improve the images. In
his spare time, for free. Check out some of the remarkable reprocessed
images from Venera 13 as well. In fact, his site, MetalLandScape has a lot of interesting stuff on it.
The first story is about the second ship of that name, the cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38). During World War II she was heavily damaged at Guadacanal - her bridge crew killed by enemy fire - and sent
back to the bay area for repairs. It was decided to take the damaged
bridge structure and make it a memorial. The
shipyard workers upon hearing of plans for a memorial industriously repaired the many shell holes.
But the shell holes were wanted for the memorial, so the Navy took the newly repaired bridge and shot more holes in it, delivering it properly sieved for the memorial. If you look closely you can see the holes in the top picture here.
(Interestingly, while looking for the link above I found that there is another naval memorial, the Lone Sailor Memorial in San Francisco that I'd never heard of. I'll have to visit it sometime.)
The second story is not so amusing. When the current USS San Francisco
was to be launched, the then Mayor of San Francisco - Dianne Feinstein - was
invited by the US Navy. Being a lefty mayor of a lefty city she sent instead
some flunky - her public affairs administrator or some such. This was just another
in a long line of insults to the USN (not to mention outright attacks) by Feinstein and various other politico's in San
The navy eventually pulled almost all of their assets out of the
bay area - closing
down Hunter's Point, Treasure Island, the Alameda Air Station, the
Naval Weapons Station, and Mare
Island, amongst other locations. Thus the the finest marine anchorage
between San Diego and Seattle has almost no USN presence today.
The blue collar jobs, the high tech jobs, the hundreds of millions,
probably billions, of dollars in funding that would have been
pumped into the local economy went elsewhere.
So much for looking out
for your constituents.
Tuesday 18 January 2005
Tuesday - continuing the weeks theme of "ALL TITAN, ALL THE TIME" here is part of a post from Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log:
Voyages to Titan have been the stuff of science fiction for decades,
based on what was known about the haze-shrouded world before the
current Cassini-Huygens mission. Arthur C. Clarke's "Imperial Earth,"
for instance, traces a colonist's journey from Titan back to Earth for
the quincentennial of American independence in 2276. Stephen Baxter's
1997 novel "Titan"
focuses on a one-way trip to Titan that's put together after the
shuttle Columbia crashes in 2003 — a partial foreshadowing of the Columbia tragedy.
I think I've mentioned Imperial Earth here before, but I haven't read Baxter's book. Left out of this list is 1979's Titan by John Varley,
in which (the non-existent) moon Themis (a Titan in the greek mythology) turns out to be a giant, hollow, sentient lifeform. I recall it as being an interesting book although it has been a long time
since I read it. Amazon.com is, once again, missing a picture of the
cover. I provide that below, along with an even more interesting picture
from the inside cover, both from my 1980 paperback:
The cover to the paperback. That's not a random geometrical design at the bottom...
A pastoral Themis scene from the
inside front cover. The left side has faded quite a bit. I have no
recollection of centaurs, female or otherwise, but it has been a long time since I read it.
An interesting survey of blogs,
showing that 2/3rds have been abandoned. Most last about 120 days or
so, don't link much to standard news outlets, and post a lot less
frequently than I do... Since the survey looks mostly at the big hosters,
blogspot, livejournal and such, it may not be accurate to extrapolate
to owner controlled domains. [via Carniola]
Monday 17 January 2005
Monday - over at Bubblehead
is some information on the USS San Francisco incident. While submerged,
and at speed (30 knots plus ) she ran into a seamount that was not on
her charts. Scroll down to Details of San Francisco Grounding Emerge.
There is a link there to a newspaper article, registration required, with some details.
Submarines are probably the most heavily built ships in the US Navy - I
doubt any other ship would survive such an impact. I imagine that the
bow sonar compartment, A1, which is outside the main pressure hull, is
completely crushed. The pictures of the sub at quayside show ripples in
her hull, up near the bow, but that may be acoustic tiles and not steel.
I recalled reading a science fiction book set on about Saturn a while back, and found it on the shelf, Michael McCollum's The Clouds of Saturn,
published in 1991. It has a description of the surface of Titan in it,
as then theorized. The dashing pirate captain Dane is just back from a
secret mission to the cloud cities of Saturn and is hoping that Kimber, the
beautiful princess he had rescued earlier is there to meet him...
"Titania spaceport was as he had
left it. The main dome rose towards the orange overcast while spaceport
workers hurried to clear a path for the newly arrived Nightingale. In
the distance, long slow waves rolled ashore from the sea of methane
that bordered the moon's capital city. Flakes of methane snow and
complex organics misted the viewport, causing the spaceport lights to
break into a million droplets of scintillating color."
The orange color of the sky is apparently correct, though it seems
unclear still as to whether the 'oceans' are liquid or just flat
plains. This article
suggests that the surface where the lander hit is like 'creme brulee'
and implies that this is what the 'oceans' are. It also mentions that
the ESA has a twelve month embargo on the raw data. [via Voyage to Arcturus]
Sunday 16 January
Sunday - a side view of the Packard is here:
Another image from the Huygen's probe apparently shows a shoreline with
creeks and islands (though the euro's are being very stingy with data -
only a few of the hundreds of pictures have been released):
Barrier islands on Titan?
It looks somewhat like the shoreline and barrier islands of the eastern
United States. I was reminded of a passage early in Paul Johnson's history,
about Raleigh's second expedition to the New World in 1595:
misadventures, some losses, prize-taking from the Spaniards, and
quarreling between Granville and Lane, the bulk of the fleet reached
the Roanoke area in July. There they discovered, and Hariot noted, one
of the main difficulties which faced the early colonists in America.
"The sea coasts of Virginia," Hariot wrote, "are full of islands
whereby the entrance into the main land is hard to find. For although
they be separated with divers and sundry large divisions, which seemed
to yield convenient entrance, yet to our great peril was proved that
they were shallow and full of dangerous flats."
The was a nice classic car packed down at the marina. This is a detail of the grill and headlight. Not
knowing what the make was I showed it to my father who was able to
instantly identify it as a 1930's Packard One Twenty. By the way, you can always tell a 'classic' car by the sepia tone ;-)