astounding Cassini video flyby of Saturn’s rings and moons

(UPDATE: credit due, via Mark. Who acounts for a disturbingly large number of my “neato lookit” posts of late.)

This is incredible – a digital compilation of images from the Cassini probe, no CGI or animation, assembled into incredible breathtaking flybys of the Saturn system. The best part os the third, final sequence where we flyby Titan, Mimas, pass thru the ring-plane, and swoop past Enceladus.

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

I’ve a photo of me from 1996 as a visitor to JPL (where my friend’s dad worked) in front of the Cassini heat shield. I really need to dig that up… Let’s also remember that the controversy about Cassini being nuclear powered was totally bogus, and use that as a data point for why nuclear power is not the ultimate bugaboo that people assume it to be after the still-unfolding tradegy and disaster in Japan.

“ancient” is a human concept, not a universal one

I was totally mesmerized by the APOD a few weeks ago:

Milky Way Over Ancient Ghost Panel
The Ghost Panel and the Milky Way

There are two kinds of antiquity here – one cosmic, the other human. Of course the age of the foreground is insignificant compared to the age of the background, but I confess to being more viscerally awed by the former.

I think it’s impossible to really relate to things beyond human timescales. The idea of something being “ancient” has no meaning if it predates our human comprehension. The Neanderthals disappeared 30,000 years ago, which is probably really the farthest back we can reflect on. When we start talking about human forebears of 100,000 years ago and more, it becomes more abstract – that’s why it’s no coincidence that the Battlestar Galactica series finale set the events 150,000 years ago, well beyond even the reach of mythological narrative.