It always amazes me that something as "small" as a planet can be seen so clearly from Earth. I appreciate how close it is, astronomically speaking, but the distances involved are just so massive.
--> One for the team
Fresh storms rip through Neptune’s skies every four to six years creating a blemish known as the Great Dark Spot – and scientists have clocked another formation of the planetary wonder using the Hubble space telescope. Boffins have seen these spots appear six times over the years, ever since Voyager 2 first spied them in 1989 …
> It always amazes me that something as "small" as a planet can be seen so clearly from Earth.
Errm, it can't. Well not that clearly. From the photo caption:
Left image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, right image taken by Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC/JPL.At the risk of stating the obvious both of those are in space not on Earth.
Likewise, I have a small (5") MAK telescope that will show detail on Mars, Jupiter& Saturn. With a camera using stacked video frames I have resolved the hexagon storm on Saturn and Galilean moon transits across Jupiter.
There is a chap called Damian Peach who has some larger telescopes and funky cameras and the results are outstanding. With a 14" SCT he has resolved surface detail on a couple of the Galilean moons around Jupiter.
Have a look and enjoy.
"Economies of scale start kicking in when you build 2000 of the same thing, not 2. By all means, lets build the probes, but the second one will likely cost the same as the first."
I don't agree. By the time you've set up the tooling to build a particular bespoke part, other than the cost of the raw materials it costs very little to build more. The same must go for custom PCBs, solar panels etc, software development costs, not to mention the R&D, testing etc.
The cost is spacecraft isn't in the tools. Raw materials costs are negligible compared to the hundreds or thousands of hours of machining and assembly time by highly skilled workers and engineers. Yes, building 2 is probably slightly cheaper per satellite, but I doubt it's going to make that much of a difference.
The biggest problem with building 2 exactly the same craft to visit the outer planets is that if you want to get into orbit around them you need vastly different delta-V specs. Since launch mass is fixed by whatever launch vehicle is available this means very likely one craft is going to be vastly overpowered and overfueled for it's intended job, while the other is barely capable of making it and will have a very short on orbit lifetime. It's better to build bespoke satellite busses for each.
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I suspect that what we have here is a fundamental misunderstanding of what "Economies of Scale" actually means.
Building 2 of a thing rather than 1 of a thing is not "scale" in the sense meant by that term. Yes, there will be some savings in the sharing of design effort, but these savings will be negligible compared to the savings that accrue when you start tooling up to real scale.
e.g. some mention was made of savings due to re-using tooling, but the tooling to build 2 of a thing will be very different than the tooling to build many THOUSANDS of a thing. In fact, the tooling to build 2 of a thing will likely be just the same tooling that you use to build 1 because you don't need it to withstand the rigour of knocking out hundred and thousands of the thing and there is no meaningful advantage to be gained by investing in more sophisticated or robust tooling that could.
So yes, by re-using that tooling two or even three times saves some cost, but you will never significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of the 2nd or even 3rd item as compared to the first.
The UK could afford to do a lot of things if it cancelled Trident and HS2. Like pay for a decent NHS and Education system. Closing the loopholes that allow rich bastards with their cash stashed abroad to avoid paying their fair share of tax would help too. And no, that wouldn't make them move abroad. And, to be honest, would we worry if they did? We'd just tax their income fairly before it left the UK.
In the scheme of things Trident and HS2 are pretty cheap. The Trident replacement's entire build and 30-year operating costs are expected to be a bit less than one year's NHS budget. So cancelling the Trident replacement entirely would basically allow about a 3% increase in the NHS budget - so it's not an enormous effect.
On the other hand £100bn is enough to make a serious space program.
JPL has already proposed a Neptune/Triton probe named Trident to be considered under NASA's Discovery program. It's a low budget ($500 million) craft that will focus on Triton's possible ocean with Neptune and possibly a TBD Kuiper Belt object as secondary objectives.
I love the idea that $500 million is "low-budget".
Would NASA mind giving a "small" contribution to my space education charity. Our aim being to discuss space missions with the locals in as many pubs around the world as possible. I think a "miniscule" million ought to do the job quite nicely...
"we estimate the wind speeds are in the ballpark of 328 feet (100 meters) per second"
I wonder if they really said it like that?
Reminds me of an old article which did a consumer test of metric and imperial measurements. The panel said that they found the millimetre scored highly for accuracy, but they found it approximately 25.4 times too small to be used conveniently.
I am both Dyslexic, or possibly suffering from the The Mandela Effect... but it has torn me apart for years over spelling"meter" or "metre". So I know it's not my fault, people were feeding me conflicting information, and each time saying I spelt it wrong.
To get my revenge, I'm spelling it "meat-tree" from now on!
Surely wind speed should be measured in knots.
Given Neptune has a circumference of 155,600 km, that makes a Neptune Nautical Mile around 7.2km.
So a wind speed of just shy of 50 Neptune Knots.
That's only 10 on the Beaufort scale, though I wouldn't want to risk my best brolly in it!
Kneptune Knots? Silly English Knnnnnnnnnigits!
Anyroad , thats an awful lot of winds , so P.D.Q huh? I would imagine a fair amount of percussion also , does this mean that Peter Shickele is involved in the project somehow , how wonderful is that.Perhaps he could be drafted onto the facebook "scientific" analysis project next , what with his expertise in the field of "The Preachers of Crimetheus", or was it "The Creatures of Prometheus" , blimey , modern life is so complicated and i thought technology was going to make life more simple , streamlined and efficient , Tra-la -la , must dash , Scamazon have just delivered my new cordless potato peeler.....
True , but the inhabitants perform with such Gust-O (TM).Can someone explain what the meaning of "one thumb down" means? is this the modern tick box form of DEBATE? swipe left/right , is that the extent of current ABILITY for rational argument , everybody thinks they are somehow that Roman big knob with the "one thumb down" powerplay , well i'me no Christian and you aint got no lions matey!
I always feel a touch of cognitive dissonance when talking about the duration of events on other planets using unspecified years. Of course it's reasonable to say that "year" means "Earth year" unless otherwise noted, I'm not suggesting otherwise. I can just imagine the Martians getting the hump about it one day.
Violent winds destroy spotsWait, does this story have any relationship with this other Reg story?:
(doesn't seem to like putting the above URL in a "a href")