More Junkmail from Bob!

Monday, October 16, 2000
Important Stuff.


Three years ago yesterday, NASA launched a rocket. Here's a picture of it.


That's a 6-ton spacecraft on the nose, called Cassini. It's headed to Saturn. It's going to find out lots of new things when it gets there, if it doesn't get smashed by an asteroid, take a wrong turn, or get kidnapped by aliens. I think it's got pretty good odds.

Cassini headed first to Venus, which seems a strange route to Jupiter. It flew by Venus twice, using Venus's gravity to pick up speed each time. Then it headed back toward Earth, using Earth's gravity to speed up even more toward Jupiter. On the last day of this year, Cassini will pass Jupiter picking up some more speed, and will begin its final leg toward Saturn. By coincidence, the last day of this year will also be New Year's Eve.

Here's how you can get to Saturn:


Notice that there's not a return trip in this diagram. You might want to figure that out before you leave.

Here's a picture of Jupiter taken by Cassini:


That's Jupiter's moon Europa on the right. You can see its shadow on Jupiter. If you were standing in that shadow, you could see an eclipse of the sun. However, it would be tough to stand in that shadow because Jupiter has no "ground" to stand on. It's a gas planet.

In 2004 Cassini will arrive in orbit around Saturn. Check out for details.

Badastronomy and ESO

Phil Plait, the owner, author, and/or proprietor of, sent me links to these pictures from the European Southern Observatory in Chile. They're impressive! His site's worth checking out too. It's famous now -- Popular Science named it one of the top 5 Eclectic Science sites on the web.

This is part of the Milky Way. It's a section of the sky about as big as the moon:


Here's a close-up of the center of that image:


ESO photos:

Canadian Discrimination

Suppose you've bucked the trillion to one odds and one the billion-dollar contest. If you're Canadian, you're not quite there yet. My "cousin or something like that" Mike pointed out that according to the contest rules, "if you are a Canadian citizen you will need to successfully answer a 4-function mathematical skill testing question with a two minute time limit and without electronic or calculator assistance to win the prize.  Failure to successfully answer the question as stated will cause the prize to be forfeited..." Now THAT could be a bummer!

I found the same clause in some other contests too, all requiring math tests for Canadians. I'm not sure, but I think this must have something to do with the Southpark movie. What's next? Will they require Norwegians to pass a Java programming exam in order to get a Happy Meal toy?

Amazon Patents

I have done some loud complaining in the past about Amazon and their stupid patents. Now it looks like OpenTV may steal (legally) Amazon's 1-click patent. I think this is just as stupid, but I also think it serves Amazon right.

Light Emitting Diodes

Last May I mentioned the new powerful LEDs used for lighting. In contrast, here's an informative and accurate article on the subject:

Pictures of Today

Here are 57,000 pictures of Mars:

Other Pictures of Today

Some neat clouds and the Kendricks' bird house:


A 1929 original, with a soon-to-be fixed rough-running engine:


A few mine tailings from the Climax mine, Colorado:


Peak One, Colorado:


Peak One under the moon:


...and Peak One under the clouds (from Peak Two):


Here's picture number 57,001 of Mars. The light color in the flat area is Spring frost on the surface of the Martian Arctic.


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