Cassini at Saturn – talk in Stornoway

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Stornoway Library along with Stornoway Astronomical Society will be hosting a talk on the Cassini mission.

The speaker for the night is Donny Mackay, president of Stornoway Astronomical Society and graduate in planetary science and astronomy who has been monitoring the Cassini mission from the outset.

The Cassini spacecraft was launched in October 1997 and arrived at Saturn at the beginning of July 2004 after a journey lasting almost 7 years. The spacecraft has now spent over 13 years at Saturn returning much data back to the mission team and increasing our knowledge considerably of Saturn and its 62 moons along with the amazing ring system. The talk is accompanied by many stunning photographs taken by the cameras aboard the Cassini Spacecraft and forwarded with the complements of NASA.

Donny will be giving the Cassini talk at Stornoway library on Tuesday 5th September at 7.30 pm and also at Tarbert library the following month on Wednesday 4th October at 7.00 pm. Admission is free to both events and all are welcome.

In January 2005, almost 6 months after the arrival at Saturn the small Huygens lander craft that was carried by Cassini decoupled and commenced its descent to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

The small probe confirmed what scientist’s had long suspected that there are lakes present on the surface of this fascinating moon, the only other known object in our Solar System apart from the Earth where liquid is to be found on the surface.

Donny said: “Be aware, however, that these lakes are hydrocarbon lakes consisting of liquid methane and some with liquid ethane hence their ability to remain in a liquid state despite an average surface temperature of minus 232 degrees centigrade on Titan.

The talk is timed to coincide with the end of the Cassini mission, when the spacecraft will be purposely steered into the planet’s atmosphere to avoid the risk of contaminating any of Saturn’s moons.