sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dione

Dione

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will zip past Saturn's moon Dione today -- the final close flyby of this icy satellite during the spacecraft's long mission. 

Cassini's closest approach, within 295 miles of Dione's surface, will occurred about an hour ago. Mission controllers expect fresh images to begin arriving on Earth within a couple of days following the encounter.

Cassini scientists have a bevy of investigations planned for Dione. Gravity-science data from the flyby will improve scientists' knowledge of the moon's internal structure and allow comparisons to Saturn's other moons. Cassini has performed this sort of gravity science investigation with only a handful of Saturn's 62 known moons.

During the flyby, Cassini's cameras and spectrometers will get a high-resolution peek at Dione's north pole at a resolution of only a few feet (or meters). In addition, Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer instrument will map areas on the icy moon that have unusual thermal anomalies -- those regions are especially good at trapping heat. Meanwhile, the mission's Cosmic Dust Analyzer continues its search for dust particles emitted from Dione.

This flyby will be the fifth targeted encounter with Dione of Cassini's tour at Saturn. Targeted encounters require maneuvers to precisely steer the spacecraft toward a desired path above a moon. The spacecraft executed a 12-second burn using its thrusters on Aug. 9, which fine-tuned the trajectory to enable the upcoming encounter.

Cassini's sharp views of Dione revealed the bright features to be a system of braided canyons with bright walls. Scientists also have been eager to find out if Dione has geologic activity, like Saturn's geyser-spouting moon Enceladus, but at a much lower level.
"Dione has been an enigma, giving hints of active geologic processes, including a transient atmosphere and evidence of ice volcanoes. But we've never found the smoking gun. The fifth flyby of Dione will be our last chance," said Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini science team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Cassini has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. After a series of close moon flybys in late 2015, the spacecraft will depart Saturn's equatorial plane -- where moon flybys occur most frequently -- to begin a year-long setup of the mission's daring final year. For its grand finale, Cassini will repeatedly dive through the space between Saturn and its rings.

The Beard

I haven't written much about Fidel (The Beard) Castro in a long time. He turned 89 last week. Will he make 90? Who knows? The CIA tried half a dozen schemes to kill the SOB in the '60's and they all folded.

People who read this blog can anticipate my thoughts when it comes to old communist dictatorships and my feelings at seeing the U.S. flag going up up in Havana, as Secretary of State John (Swiftboat) Kerry mouthed platitudes to avoid offending Cuba's communist dictatorship.

Cuba is still a totalitarian hell-hole and I can understand President Obama's affinity toward The Beard (and friends) in the same way that he was a friend to (the late) Hugo Chavez, former dictator of Venezuela. When you are raised by communists, as President Obama was, you are naturally heir to a belief system that touts the virtue of people such as Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un, North Korea's fat little dictator.

Cuban dissidents now see an America that has chosen the Castro regime over them. 

It's just one more thing that I hope the next president fixes as he/she spends the bulk of a term in office un-doing what Obama did. Of course, if the next US President is Hillary Clinton, we will likely double down in our love for Cuba and give them Guantanamo Bay and the prison there so that they can incarcerate more dissidents.

If John F. Kennedy hadn't been such a weakling, we would have outright invaded Cuba (not at the Bay of Pigs) with the full might of the US Military, thrown The Beard into jail for murder and set things right.

Cuba, which is a really delightful spot - absent the communist dictatorship - would be a much nicer place than, say, Puerto Rico, to go on vacation. Not many people go to Puerto Rico on vacation because of the deteriorated social conditions there. Cuba is a different situation.

I'm not suggesting that we invade Cuba and toss out the communists today, because, who cares really? However, there are a lot of people in Cuba who have pegged their hopes on America and Barack pulled the rug out from under them. It's simply one of many outrageous acts perpetrated by USGOV in the Obama Years.