Check out this spectacular picture of Hyperion from Cassini. The imaging technology has come a long way since the first Rangers.
I’ve been told by someone at NSF that there may be an announcement today of an extrasolar “earth-like” planet (in terms of mass) at 1 PM. We’ll keep an eye out.
[Update at 11:30 AM EDT]
Here’s a link to a webcast on it, coming up in an hour and a half. The person who notified me of this writes:
“I believe, based on the level of media they’re expecting that it will be an earth-size and mass planet outside of the solar system.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
[Update at 2 PM]
OK, it’s “more earth like than anything previously found,” but still not that earth like. It masses several times as much as the earth, at a distance of only a couple million miles from its star, with a year of only two earth days. Sounds more like a large “Mercury-like” planet.
Alan Boyle has the story.
Cassini has been delivering spectacular results, and we can continue to look forward to much more (barring technical disaster, or a collision with a ring particle). I remember when I was in college, and we were just starting to anticipate the pictures that would be coming in from Voyager in a few years. Today, I suspect that most young people take this kind of imagery for granted. It’s just part of the background tapestry of twenty-first century life, like powerful desktop computers, iPods, and affordable air fares.
Exobiology isn’t an area of as deep fascination to me as it is for some, but if it is for you, Derek Lowe has a thoughtful post on the subject.
[Update at 8:30 AM EST]
Here is some encouraging news for those looking for life off planet–bacteria that have survived being frozen for over thirty thousand years.
That’s what the eclipse is in Boca Raton. Just as it was starting to really happen, it shyly hid behind a thick cloud, and has yet to emerge.
[Thursday morning update]
It wasn’t a total bust. We got some breaks in the clouds during totality. Our biggest problem was staying up late enough. We gave it up about 11:30, while it was still fully in the umbra. It was a beautiful for a while, though.