Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: June 16, 2009 Archive

No Wake Zone

Posted at 5:29 AM on June 16, 2009 by Dale Connelly (26 Comments)

Don't forget to enter the drawing for tickets to see Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson at the Cedar Cultural Center The Fitzgerald Theater this Wednesday Night, June 17th.
We have three pairs of tickets to give away.
Your window of opportunity closes at 1pm today.

Enter the drawing. Obey the rules. Good luck.

With summer so near, boating is on my mind. Maybe that's why the latest photos from the rings of Saturn make me want to call the galactic lake patrol about the reckless behavior of the moon Daphnis.

Ripple Shadows Large.JPG

You might recall from earlier posts that Saturn is moving towards a once-every-fifteen-year equinox late this summer. The famous rings will be positioned at an angle to the sun that will cause objects in the rings to cast visible shadows. We're already seeing the result, thanks to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an imaging team of international scientists at CICLOPS. .

Daphnis is tiny, about 5 miles across, a mere kayak pushing through the weeds in the large Mille Lacs sized lake of stuff that orbits Saturn, but it's rippling the ring edge ragged!

Here's a photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft at a distance of 513 thousand miles.
Daphnis is the tiny dot in the gap, and you can see how the gravitational pull of the moon is disturbing that delicate ring stuff. The ring is about 30 feet thick, but the shadow-casting plumes being stirred up by Daphnis are as wide as one mile.

Here's a close up.

Ripple Shadows.JPG

We are over 700 million miles away, watching a tiny moon as it causes a big ripple in a narrow ring.
That's mind boggling.
And it proves you can't get away with anything anymore.

Daphnis, dude! Slow down.

Ever been cited for a no-wake violation?

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