Category Archives: Satellite Imagination

history and science of the natural satellites of the solar system

Satellite Imagination: Pioneer’s Near Miss

In 1961, UCLA grad student Michael Minovitch (image here) figured out the gravity assist maneuver for space travel. The young mathematician, working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), crunched some numbers. And the numbers showed that if a rocket was aimed … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Honoring a Wife

Pluto has been demoted from planethood, but before that determination and after, it has been carefully studied. As much as a point of light on a photographic plate can be studied. Clyde Tombaugh really picked a needle out of a … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Before Kuiper’s Belt

As we read in the last edition of this series, Seth Nicholson’s satellite discoveries spanned nearly four decades. Let’s dial the clock back a bit from the discovery of his last, Jupiter XII, and take stock of the situation just … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Nicholson’s Quartet

Detecting natural satellites of Jupiter is darned difficult. The planet is bright. The satellites are small and dim. Most of Jupiter’s moons orbit in irregular paths, nudged by the sun. Some even orbit backwards. If you blinked, you might lose … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Unnamed Moons

Galileo discovered the first satellites (except for our Moon) in the solar system. In the opener of the “satellite imagination” series, you get a piece of the story connected with that. You might think that moons half a billion miles … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Photographers At Work

Phoebe was the first of Saturn’s moons encountered by the Cassini space probe. In 2004, Earthlings got delicious images of the moon from just a few thousand miles away. Before Cassini, our view of this moon for the past 105 … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: End of the Age of the Eye

In 1892, we can note the last human eye discovery of a solar system satellite. The eye belonged to Edward Emerson Barnard who, working at the Lick Observatory in California, found a fifth satellite of Jupiter. Hereafter, every subsequent satellite … Continue reading

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