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Friday, May 26, 2006

Out of this world podcast

From the Boing-Boing Blog:

JPL podcast about the history and future of Voyager probes
In 1977, NASA launched two
Voyager spacecraft to explore the outer planets of the solar system. (Seen here, Jupiter with Io and Europa as photographed by Voyager 1 on February 13, 1979. Link) Nearly three decades later, both probes are still sending data back home as they're hurtling toward the edge of our solar system. (Previous BB post about Voyager here.) Ed Stone has been the project scientist since the beginning. This week, he was interviewed on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Podcast. From the transcript:
Narrator: Okay, let me just go back a bit, and again, you have 30 years of these two amazing spacecraft. This is a tough question for you, I'm sure, but do you have some highlights you can rattle off, some of the most important things you've learned in that time or some of the most exciting discoveries for you.

Stone: Well, generally the most important thing we learned is how diverse the bodies of the solar system are. Each one is unique and that's because they've had a different history, different evolution. Jupiter, with it's great red spot is just the largest of dozens of giant hurricane-like storm systems. And two of Jupiter's moons, Io, has a 100 times more volcanic activity than Earth. Europa has an ice crust probably on the liquid water ocean. On to Saturn, we've found Saturn's rings are riddled with wakes from moons, which are orbiting inside the rings and outside the rings. And there is a moon there called Enceladus, which is the whitest, brightest object in the solar system and has a very fresh surface. And there's the moon Titan, which has an atmosphere in which liquid natural gas rains on the surface. On to Uranus, where we found the magnetic pole down near its equator, and we found a moon, although it was only 300 miles across, it's one of the most complex surfaces we've yet seen. And on to Neptune, the furthest planet from the sun that we've visited, yet it has the fastest winds, with the least energy from the sun to dry them, and its moon Triton, 40 degrees above absolute zero, yet we found geysers erupting from its polar ice cap.

--It's about 15 minutes long... but the dimensions are timeless...

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