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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NASA Telescope Discovers Giant Ring Around Saturn






PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- "The Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered the biggest but never-before-seen ring around the planet Saturn, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced late Tuesday.
The thin array of ice and dust particles lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system and its orbit is tilted 27 degrees from the planet's main ring plane, the laboratory said.
JPL spokeswoman Whitney Clavin said the ring is very diffuse and doesn't reflect much visible light but the infrared Spitzer telescope was able to detect it.
Although the ring dust is very cold -- minus 316 degrees Fahrenheit -- it shines with thermal radiation.
No one had looked at its location with an infrared instrument until now, Clavin said.
The bulk of the ring material starts about 3.7 million miles from the planet and extends outward about another 7.4 million miles.
The newly found ring is so huge it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it, JPL said.
Before the discovery Saturn was known to have seven main rings named A through E and several faint unnamed rings.
A paper on the discovery was to be published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.
''This is one supersized ring,'' said one of the authors, Anne Verbiscer, an astronomer at theUniversity of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her co-authors are Douglas Hamilton of theUniversity of Maryland, College Park, and Michael Skrutskie, also of the University of Virginia.
Saturn's moon Phoebe orbits within the ring and is believed to be the source of the material.
The ring also may answer the riddle of another moon, Iapetus, which has a bright side and a very dark side.
The ring circles in the same direction as Phoebe, while Iapetus, the other rings and most of Saturn's other moons go the opposite way. Scientists think material from the outer ring moves inward and slams into Iapetus.
''Astronomers have long suspected that there is a connection between Saturn's outer moon Phoebe and the dark material on Iapetus,'' said Hamilton. ''This new ring provides convincing evidence of that relationship.''
The Spitzer mission, launched in 2003, is managed by JPL in Pasadena. Spitzer is 66 million miles from Earth in orbit around the sun."



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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.