You need to upgrade your Flash Player The theme of this blog is not only and obviously space, but in particular “terrestrial worlds”, places that tend to have surfaces on which one could walk or at least attach oneself to. These places sometimes also have other earth-like familiar features such as atmospheres, weather, volcanos, geysers and perhaps, we are finding, even exotic oceans, rivers or lakes that are not necessarily made of familiar materials we are used to here at home. The second theme is imagery. Occasionally I do some retouching of images when needed if an image is incomplete or sometimes “dirty” or noisy. I will attempt to correct image shortcomings based upon other images or well-accepted presumed attributes. When this is done, notes will be offered as to what was added, why and sometimes how it was done. This way no one should ever wonder if something they are looking at is real or photoshop.

Highlights for 2008

Titan on Jan 05, Feb 22, Mar 25, May 12 and May 28

Cassini takes a pass at Titan on February 22 (already having made a pass this year on January 5th).

Cassini Goes Plume Diving

Soon after Titan, Cassini performs a truly unexpected maneuver and flies directly through the plumes of Enceladus on March 12th. This is a somewhat risky task for the probe as the particles it will surely encounter may pose some kind of impact threat to the spacecraft. Mission planners expect the risk to be low as they intend to turn the spacecraft around and let the less delicate side of Cassini bear the brunt of the material and photograph the geysers as it moves away from Enceladus. It should make for some of the most exciting planetary science planned for this year.

Titan Alt

Cassini has another go at Titan on March 25.

Titan Alt

Yup – you guessed it. Cassini at Titan again on May 12th.

Phoenix on May 25

The Phoenix lander arrives at Mars on May 25th and (hopefully) makes good on the failure of the Mars Polar Lander. It will be the first time a probe will attempt a landing on the Martian pole and will conduct a series of experiments looking for the existence of water ice.

Titan Alt

You can never have too much of a good thing. Cassini at Titan again on May 28th as well as July 31.

Chandrayaan on April 9

Chandrayaan becomes India’s first planetary probe as it leaves for the moon in Early July (was April).

Cassini at Enceladus Aug 11, Oct 9 and Oct 31

The extended Cassini mission has made Enceladus a prime target of investigation and the new encounters begin on Aug 11th and comes within 54km of the surface.

Rosetta at 2867 Steins on Sept 5

Rosetta still on its way for an encounter with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, will make a close pass at an asteroid named 2867 Steins on Sept 5th at a distance of only 1700 km. Steins is a small asteroid measuring only a few kilometers in size and the craft will be traveling at a relatively slow speed which should allow for some good resolution images to be acquired during the encounter.

Messenger on Jan 14 and Oct 6

Messenger (having just completed the first encounter in 33 years this past week) has another go at Mercury on Oct 6th and flies past more uncharted territory on its way to eventual orbit insertion in 2011.

Cassini Enceladus Alt

Two more close flybys of the Saturnian moon Enceladus on Oct 9 and Oct 31. The first at hair-raising distance of 25km and the second around a more reasonable 200km.

Lunar Recon Orbiter on Nov 3

In an effort to recognize the International Lunar Decade (and intended manned Lunar missions within 15 years), the United States returns to the moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov 3rd. It is expected to begin its scientific goals only 3 days after launch and is expected to look for possible deposits of water ice in permanently shadowed craters near the Lunar poles.

Titan Alt

And finally more Titan flybys on Nov 3, Nov 19, Dec 5 and Dec 21.

All this is in addition to the ongoing work of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars. Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance in orbit around Mars. Cassini’s non-targeted continuing tour of other icy Saturnian moons. And who knows, maybe we will see more than 2 or 3 reports coming from the ever quiet Venus Express mission currently at Venus.

Sadly, some very exciting missions will be quietly traveling en route to their targets and are not expected to be heard from in 08 like the Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt, New Horizons mission to Pluto/Charon, the newly re-targeted Deep Impact mission (now known as Epoxi) as well as Stardust now on its way to a follow-up visit to Tempel 1 the comet that was smacked by Deep Impact in 2005.

7 Responses to “Highlights for 2008”

  1. Gordan Says:

    “Oddly there are no other Titan encounters listed on the Cassini website for 2008 beyond this as it represents the end of the extended mission. However, a further extended mission…”

    End of June 2008 represents the end of *primary* mission and start of the first extended mission.

  2. thomas Says:

    word up. i thought we had already been in phase two as i already read somewhere that plan 3 is being approved already.

  3. Gordan Says:

    Sheesh, don’t even remind me we’re slowly moving towards the end of Cassini’s endeavours. I’ve been following the mission since I first found out about it in high school and basically grew up with it, it’s gonna be hard once it’s gone. I can’t believe it’s been almost exactly 4 years since the start of Saturn approach imaging campaign. The years of anxiously waiting to get there, the suspense of orbit insertion, the closest ring images ever seen live as they hit the ground, the first distant Titan flyby…

    Watching ESA’s live coverage of Huygens descent over the NASA web video stream and hearing the report of acquiring the probe’s radio signal directly from Earth was very emotional, almost surreal. And that was only me, I had no involvement in the mission. I can only imagine how it felt to the guys behind the probe after years of work and waiting for that moment. I saw at least a few of them shed a tear of happiness at that moment.

    It’s really my favorite mission, truly the last great flagship. It showed what Galileo should have been at Jupiter had THE antenna worked.

  4. thomas Says:

    funny you should mention. i was just telling someone how i remember reading of the plan to send a probe to Titan when i was around 12. i probably read about it somewhere in “Sky and Telescope” or “Astronomy” magazine. i remember reading about it with wide-eyed excitement and then thinking that 2001 was so far away… i may as well forget about it. little did we all know the shuttle disaster would further delay that mission about 6 additional years.

    Cassini-Huygens makes me feel older than having a baby did.

  5. Bill Says:

    I was going to do something like this and you beat me to it. It’s well done and very useful.

  6. thomas Says:

    huzzah! i beat ye!

  7. Keith Says:

    Hi there I was browsing Internet searching for High And Low Highlights For Hair and your blog regarding Highlights for 2008 came my way. Very interesting! You really do know your thing! I\’m gonna bookmark you and come back in a few to see your new posting! Looking forward to! Cheers!

Leave a Reply