July 22, 2004

Out Among The Stars...

With all the tragedy that seems to permeate through our current times, I have found the missions to Mars and Saturn exciting distractions. Each day, I visit the websites in anticipation of new images of these strange, faraway worlds:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/index.html for Saturn.
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/ for Mars.

I can appreciate that the hardcore geology that the current Mars Rovers have been undertaking is NOT exactly Star Trek, but what a joy to view those glorious shots of the Red Planet's horizons.

The site also includes a video photo-montage of the sun setting, and it gave me such a Romantic sense of loneliness, as our Solar companion dips behind those unfamiliar hills. Another shot, taken by Spirit, showed a distant star-like object in the sky, among many other stars, except this particular bright speck is our home earth!

The Saturn mission promises to deliver endless treats over the next four years. After taking seven years to travel to Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft has finally reached its destination. Straight away, beautiful close-up shots of Saturn's rings have been sent to us. To see the impressive scale and the natural forces of gravity on its rings, both from Saturn and its moons, is breathtaking.

In December, the Hyugens probe, which is currently saddled to Cassini, will be dropped on to Saturn's largest moon, Titan. What is remarkable about this particular body, is that it has a thick nitrogen atmosphere with traces of methane, and may even have oceans. Could Titan sustain life? We may soon find out!

How lucky we are to see such incredible things!

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