Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Saturn Images; Also: Shapes and Their Crushing Recurrence

Some new images of Saturn and its surrounding moons taken by Cassini were released recently and they're pretty stunning. The Boston Globe's got a crisp, nicely captioned set of photos that kind of make astronomy cool again. Well, for a few seconds and then it gets nerdy again.

The image to the right is from Saturn's "high north" and it was taken from a distance of 336,000 miles. Each pixel represents 18 miles (let that blow your mind for a second).

A lot of the images are powerful but this one really struck me. Looking closely at it, all the roiling storms on the surface of the planet, I thought it looked a bit like this photo:

I'm just continually struck by how the same patterns and shapes show up again and again and again on a sliding scale, all the way from the tiniest speck of atomic matter, to a nautilus shell, to the most macro view of the entire universe. And here the same spiral shapes showing up here on the surface of gas giant Saturn. Something about that brutal consistency absolutely everywhere is both reassuring and kind of deflating.

In our deepest explorations of space, will we ever find the legendary schlazz'shlorg shape? Or just more of these spirals?

Yeah. More spirals.


moorhead said...

The universe, Crane - love it or leave it.

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