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MAIN ARTICLE: New moon discovered around Saturn.

A small moon was found hidden in the outer rings of Saturn.

Poll Results: The poll yesterday had an average turnout but it was a close vote.

Star Trek: In the News. The smell of Star Trek?

Yesterday's Comments: "This is like military porn." - GreatDane

Today's Poll: Should America go ahead with a flagship mission to Saturn?


Just when you thought you knew all the moons of our solar system a new one is discovered.

Surprise! Saturn has small moon hidden in ring

"PASADENA, Calif. – Scientists have found a new moon hidden in one of Saturn's dazzling outer rings. The international Cassini spacecraft spotted the moon, which measures about a third of a mile wide. The discovery was announced Tuesday in a notice by the International Astronomical Union.

Researchers have long puzzled over the formation of Saturn's G ring, one of the planet's more mysterious arcs. They now think the G ring was likely formed from icy debris that scattered when meteorites crash into the newfound moon."
--end quote--



Cassini–Huygens was a joint project by NASA and the ESA. Consisting of the Cassini Orbiter and the Huygens probe.


"two main elements: the NASA Cassini orbiter, named after the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, and the ESA Huygens probe, named after the Dutch astronomer, mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens. It was launched on October 15, 1997 and entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. On December 25, 2004 the Huygens probe separated from the orbiter at approximately 02:00 UTC; it reached Saturn's moon Titan on January 14, 2005 where it made an atmospheric descent to the surface and relayed scientific information. On April 18, 2008, NASA announced a two year extension of the mission.[1] Cassini is the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn and the fourth to visit it."


NASA and the ESA have been planning on new missions to both Jupiter (see "NASA's new Flagship Jupiter mission with ESA.", 'Americans in Space', Feb 19, 2009) and to Saturn but only the Jupiter mission has been approved. The new mission will not be as agressive as the JIMO (Jupiter Icey Moons) project that was proposed a few years ago. That mission was cut by then NASA administrator Michael Griffin.


I came across the this the other day and as I read though them I thought about the current position NASA is in and the new Constellation system. How many of them are relevant to that new design. Leave a comment if you spot something that you think is applicable.

Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design

  1. "Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is, at best, only an opinion.
  1. To design a spacecraft right takes a infinite amount of effort. This is why it's a good idea to design them to operate when some things are wrong.
  1. Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time.
  1. Your best efforts will inevitably wind up being useless in the final design. Learn to live with the disappointment.
  1. (Miller's Law) Three points determine a curve.
  1. (Mar's Law) Everything is linear if plotted log-log with a fat magic marker.
  1. At the start of any design effort, the person who most wants to be team leader is least likely to be capable of it.
  1. In nature, the optimum is almost always in the middle somewhere. Distrust assertions that the optimum is at an extreme point.
  1. Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis.
  1. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up the mess when the real numbers come along.
  1. Sometimes, the fastest way to get to the end is to throw everything out and start over.
  1. There is never a single right solution. There are aways multiple wrong ones, though.
  1. Design is based on requirements. There's no justification for designing something one bit "better" than the requirements dictate. "Better" is the enemy of "good"
  1. The ability to improve a design occurs primarily at the interfaces. This is also the prime location for screwing it up.
  1. The previous people who did a similar analysis did not have a direct pipeline to the wisdom of the ages. There is,therefore, no reason to believe their analysis over yours. There is especially no reason to present their analysis as yours.
  1. The fact that an analysis appears in print has no relationship to the likelihood of its being correct.
  1. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.
  1. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, the chances are better that you've screwed up than that you've invented warp drive.
  1. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.
  1. (Larrabee's Law) Half of everything you hear in a classroom is crap. Education is figuring out which half is which.
  1. When in doubt, document. (Documentation requirements will reach a maximum shortly after the termination of a project.)
  1. The schedule you develop will seem like a complete work of fiction up until the moment your customer fires you for not meeting it.
  1. Its called a "Work Breakdown Structure" because the Work remaining will grow until you have a Breakdown, unless you enforce some Structure on it.
  1. Space is a completely unforgiving environment. If you screw up the engineering, SOMEBODY DIES!"


Yesterday's poll: "Should America's Marine Corp have suborbital capability?" had an average turnout but was another very close poll. 52% of DKOS members talking part in the poll thought "Yes the Marines should have this capability." while 41% thought this technology was not quite ready for prime time and America should hold off on funding it. Only five percent had no opinion.

STAR TREK: In the News.

Star Trek Fragrances

"I am a trek fan and excited about the new movie, but this is too much. From the Trek Movie Article: 'Genki Wear, known for its licensed science fiction jewelry and perfumes, has produced what might be the most unusual Star Trek product ever: Star Trek colognes and perfume based on the original 1960s television show. ... There are three fragrances planned for 2009 with the monikers 'Tiberius," "Red Shirt" and "Ponn Farr." "


"I'm not a huge fan of excessive military spending except for those rare occasions when the programs would provide possible benefits to all of humanity. I see this as one of those times. Anything involving LEO space flight is okay in my book. Now if they could throw a few rail guns and flames on the side of that thing it would be golden!" - Nick Zouroudis

"As a Marine I feel I have the right to say That this is the stupidest idea I ever heard.  The technology isn't there.  You can't land a space shuttle in a war zone!

I'm a Heinlein fan.  I love the jumpsuits in "Starship Troopers"...  The story (not the movie, blah!)  Individual Marines dropped in egg like cocoons with multiple parachutes and finally jet packs!  Too F-ing Cool!!!  Maybe in 100 years.

Then there are the space Marines from the movie "Aliens"...  That drop ship is beyond anything on the drawing board.  Maybe with the CERN supercollider we can unravel the mysteries of anti-gravity.  Again, maybe in 100 years.

This whole idea is a big waste of taxpayer dollars like the Osprey which suceeded mostly in getting Marines killed. Semper Fi" - PvtJarHead


Read other NASA and Space diaries on DKOS.

Originally posted to Vladislaw on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:35 PM PST.


Should America go ahead with a flagship mission to Saturn?

27%24 votes
60%53 votes
12%11 votes

| 88 votes | Vote | Results

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