The recent cold snap across the U.S. dusted off some neurons that hadn’t been used since Earth Science- and in the process I made a pretty cool (lol) connection with some images of Saturn recently released from NASA. The Earth has a vortex of cold air spinning around its North Pole, and in early January this vortex branched out and dropped a blanket of cold air onto the Americas.
As you can tell from the above images, our polar vortex isn’t especially consistent or symmetrical in shape. The same can not be said for Saturn’s polar vortex…
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University
The beautiful series of images above was taken from the Cassini spacecraft. “The hexagon”, as it’s known, has a hurricane at its center with cloud speeds of 330 miles per hour.
It’s awesome to see well-documented phenomena on Earth taken to their extreme on foreign planets. Hopefully we’ll see more as we continue to explore the worlds in our solar system and beyond.
Check out more stunning images of the hexagon here.
In 1977 we flung an atomic powered robot into space. Voyager 1’s primary mission was to beam data back to Earth as it cruised through the outer solar system. One of the most famous bits of data sent back is this image of Earth captured as Voyager looked back towards its home planet in 1990 (Awesome commentary on this image and our planet/species by Carl Sagan here)
The Pale Blue Dot image taken 6 billion km from Earth in 1990.
Voyager, continuing with the momentum gained from its primary mission, has recently left our solar system and started its secondary mission of being a message in a bottle from our species to the cosmos. The message is stored on an easy-to-read golden record, and contains greetings in different languages, sounds from Earth, brainwaves of a human, and images from around the planet.
The Golden Record.
The cover of the record contains an easy to read explanation on how to retrieve the data– defining time units in the universal constant of the fundamental transition of the hydrogen atom. The location of our solar system is also printed on the cover, in relation to 14 pulsars with unique periods.
Check out President Jimmy Carter’s message to who/whatever finds Voyager- “This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.”
It’s awesome to know that there is a time capsule of our species and planet floating through interstellar space- likely to last billions of years in the cold reaches between the stars. I’d like the think that one day something pics it up and gets to hear Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry.