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Whilst the current coditions for lockdown are imposed we have suspended our monthly meetings.  However we are holding monthly meetings using a variety of conferencing software e.g. Zoom  Below is a list of our proposed meetings.  If you are not on our circulation list and would like to join these meetings please e-mail us at

 

Note this meeting wil use "MediaStream" with a Q&A session following immediately using Zoom as the medium.

 

This, the first of three sessions of this “Remote Sensing of the Saturnian System - A Tale of Two Moons: Atmospheres and Oceans” presentation by Dr Graeme Awcock, will be made available  on Tuesday 27th October. It will start with a very brief introduction to the speaker, and an overview of the scope of all three sessions.

Then session ONE will commence with a brief review of the history of Humankind's observation of Saturn, and the legacy of the earliest exploration of the Saturnian System by the Pioneer and Voyager space probes, which left scientists with many urgent unanswered questions, especially about Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

It will then show how decisions made by the Nixon administration in the political turmoil of the early 1970s short-sightedly refocussed America’s efforts in Space on crewed missions, launched by the re-usable Space Shuttle. A case study of the ‘Galileo’ Mission to Jupiter will be used to illustrate the limitations, delays and problems caused by this misguided decision to rely, exclusively, on the Shuttle Transportation System. Ultimately, the Shuttle proved to be too complex, fragile, expensive and, frankly, life-threatening to effectively deliver payloads that needed high launch-energies. This led to America’s loss of its monopoly of providing launch services for the lucrative geostationary communications satellites business and seriously delayed its ability to undertake deep-space exploration missions to the outer Solar System.

So, when we investigate the Cassini-Huygens Mission that eventually blasted-off in 1997, we will be able to understand that the delay of well over a decade had been well used to develop the most sophisticated spacecraft ever built. Its 5.8 tonne mass at launch not only took the World’s most powerful (non-reusable) rocket system to loft it into space, but also required a sophisticated gravity-assist trajectory to get it to Saturn. When it got there in 2004, it delivered the Huygens probe into Titan’s atmosphere and then operated reliably for another 13 years. In that time, it completed over 290 complex orbits and made an astonishing series of discoveries with its arsenal of sophisticated instrumentation, before being deliberately de-orbited in 2017 to protect those precious discoveries.

Session TWO, dealing with the discoveries at Titan, will be released on 3rd November, and Session THREE, dealing with the discoveries at Enceladus, will be released on 10th November.


The Local Group