Hex Corner

Hex Corner

Sent by: Cassini | From: Saturn | Sent: August 26, 2008 | Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI | Image source

A close-up, taken yesterday, showing one corner of the famous Saturnian polar hexagon, which can now be partially seen in the sunlight. The soup of storms seen all through the image includes individual maelstroms hundreds of miles across.


Any atmospheric craft would have a VERY turbulent ride on Saturn! Certainly gives our scientists and engineers a challenge for when we finally do put instruments on the “surface” of Saturn or Jupiter or any gas giant for that matter.

If my memory serves me, I seem to recall Arthur C. Clarke writing a story about dropping down through the atmosphere of, maybe, Jupiter. I can vividly recall certain terrifying scenes, but who wrote it and what is was called is not coming to mind at all. Maybe “Medusa” in the title?

Ahhh, what would I do without Google. Here’s a blurb from a review site…
“Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting With Medusa” (novella, hard sf): Exploring the upper atmosphere of Jupiter in a manned vehicle”

Anyone want to go for a ride? ;-)


I’m so with you! let’s plan the road trip of all road trips! Start at the Moon, on to Mars, pass through the Astroid Belt and then to Jupiter! I want to find out if Jupiter has a rocky core. You game?

And how thick will the shielding in our jockey shorts need to be… let alone the shielding on the ship?

OK you engineers out there, how much shielding would actually be necessary to protect a human from Jupiter’s radiation? Would it render a ship too massive to launch? Does anyone know if current spacesuits offer sufficient protection in space from that level of exposure?

Well, launching all that mass from the bottom of our gravity well is probably not the way to do it. Better to mine an asteroid or two to get what you need in orbit after launching all the parts you need from down here.

I can’t do the math (and I don’t know the parameters anyway) but from 50 years (!) of reading science fiction, I’d guess a thick double wall filled with water ice would help a lot, combined with suitable metallic containers. If the crew can hole up from a solar flare, I don’t think Jupiter can throw anything worse at them.

Thing is, as incomprehensible as a journey by humans of the species to the innards of Jupiter is now there will come a time when it is not only doable but will have been done.

Somewhere in the dim past of my education is a memory of something I read that at the time it was written was taken to be gospel truth; “A human will never go faster than a running horse.” Now there are words you’d take to a bank and loose a fortune on.

How far will Saturn have tilted toward the sun by the end of Cassini’s extended mission? By the end (2010?), will the entire hexagon are be bathed in visible sunlight? Then again, will this extra energy supplied by the sun alter the storm patterns so they will no longer be hexagonal?? I’m curious as to what this looks like in the visible spectrum.

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