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Cassini probe finds strange Saturn vortex while Nova explains Cosmos

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Details about a “strange vortex” recently found on one of Saturn’s moons is part of a forthcoming PBS “Nova” TV show about “the fabric of the Cosmos” July 18.

The famed “Cassini probe” – that NASA announced July 11 as “spotting a mysterious 200-mile-high vortex on Saturn’s moon Titan – has scientists scratching their heads; while fans of the PBS TV program “Nova” may recall that famed planetary scientist Dr. Carolyn Porco detailed the Cassini space mission during one of Nova’s TV presentations last year; with the program’s website now offering a detailed interview with Doctor Porco in the wake of this “strange vortex” being discovered by NASA’s Cassini probe. In turn, Nova’s airs hour 2 of its “Fabric: The Illusion of Time” episode July 18 at 9 p.m. (check your local area TV listings) that explains why “the fabric of the Cosmos” helps to define our lives; while asking “what is time really?” In turn, as one of Nova’s contributing scientists, it’s proud to report that Doctor Porco is the leader of the “Cassini Imaging Team” that NASA scientists are now “puzzling over,” reports London’s Daily Mail newspaper July 12 “after the orbiting Cassini probe’s images of a ‘vortex’ was discovered on a Saturn moon’s south pole.”

Nova TV show provides background on breaking space discoveries

Fans of the PBS TV science program “Nova” may recall how Doctor Porco explained the Cassini’s probe mission both on a Nova TV program last year, and more recently on a special interview with this top planetary scientist that’s currently available on Nova’s website.

For instance, Doctor Porco told Nova TV viewers that the Cassini probe hopes to find out more about Saturn; while London’s Daily Mail reported July 12 how “Cassini could offer an insight into the moon's mysterious atmosphere, where seasons last for seven years, and 300-foot dunes of frozen chemicals roll across the surface of the planet;” while also pointing to NASA’s view that “the formation seen at the pole is similar to ones seen over Earth's oceans.”

Moreover, Doctor Porco is featured now on the PBS “Nova” TV website explaining just what may be happening on Saturn in the wake of this strange vortex floating around it in space.

“We’ve investigated various possibilities. Outside of Titan, Enceladus has more rock within it relative to its size than any other moon in the Saturn system. But despite the fact that it’s, whatever it is—60 percent rocky by mass—there’s not enough rock there to make radioactivity a plausible explanation for all the heat that we see coming out of Enceladus. It’s way off. You can’t do it with radioactivity alone. So the only other plausible mechanism left is tidal flexure. Because Enceladus is in an eccentric orbit as it goes around Saturn—sometimes it’s close to Saturn, then it’s farther away, then it’s close again—this periodic change in its distance from Saturn means that the tidal bulge raised in the body of Enceladus by Saturn also changes in magnitude. If you think about it, that means that the body of Enceladus is being flexed, and if it’s being flexed that means there’s internal friction, and internal friction leads to heat,” explained Doctor Porco.

At the same time, Oregon’s famed UFO “watchers” – that use the far-west vantage point of Bray’s Point, at the very edge of Oregon’s central coast – say they often tune into Nova; while also reading Doctor Porco’s interesting and “informative” interviews on the Nova TV website to help put local UFO sightings into context; per, said one “watcher,” how "our UFO sightings" may fit in the big picture of our Cosmos; while NASA's report of a strange "vortex" over Saturn as no hoke, but real science.

Also, Doctor Porco noted how “the amount of heat that we see coming out of Enceladus at this very moment is even more than we can explain with the present-day flexing. So it really becomes interesting because then you have to say, okay, Enceladus must have had an even larger eccentricity in the past and its flexure was even greater, and so the heat production at that time was greater than what we see now. But all that energy must have been stored in the interior of Enceladus and only now is it making its way to the surface where we can measure it. So we think today we’re seeing the energy stored in the interior of Enceladus over the course of its past. How far in the past we’re not really sure.”

Nova keeping America in touch with space discoveries

Nova’s interviews with Doctor Porco have already explained how the Cassini probe has found such things as massive sand dunes on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan that are much like the sand dunes along the Oregon coast; with Saturn also having huge desert areas that mirror those on Earth.

However, London’s Daily Mail reported July 12 that those “similarities end there because not only are the dunes on Titan 300 feet high and up to a mile wide, they're made of frozen hydrocarbons - chemicals found in crude oil - rather than sand. There are four million square miles of dunes on Titan, an area the size of the United States.”

Also, Doctor Porco told Nova that she hopes views from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft might explain just what this recently discovered “vortex” on Titan is in terms of Nova’s current TV programs that explore the Cosmos.

Thus, Nova’s TV programming claims its program is relevant today since it’s on the cutting edge of science with such contributors as Doctor Porco not only previewing what man may find in outer space someday, but offering TV viewers’ additional context and education materials on the Nova TV show website.

Dr. Carolyn Porco rocks Nova TV show with expert insight

While many TV guest stars come across as nothing more than just good looking cosmetic TV game show hosts; Nova’s Dr. Carolyn Porco, 59, is sort of a rock star of planetary science.

For instance, Doctor Porco leads NASA’s “Cassini Imagining Team” that recently discovered a massive, and very strange “vortex” that seems to float in deep space over Saturn’s moon Titan, NASA announced July 11.

Also, as a member of the famed “Voyager Imaging Team, and an international expert in planetary rings and Enceladus, Doctor Porco is one of Nova’s go-to scientific experts who is known for her work in the exploration of the outer solar system and, in turn, being able to explain this science to the masses on the PBS TV program “Nova,” and her lectures to school, universities and organizations worldwide.

For example, Doctor Porco was responsible, states Nova, “for the epitaph and proposal to honor the late renowned geologist Eugene Shoemaker by sending his remains to the Moon aboard the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1998.”

In addition, Doctor Porco made international headlines honored Beatle John Lennon by releasing the first color image by the Cassini probe on Lennon’s October 9 birthday. Also, this popular Nova TV guest produced and directed a brief 8-minute movie of 64 of Cassini’s most spectacular images (available on the Nova TV website) that she put to the music of the Beatles in honor of Paul McCartney’s birthday that, in turn, she sent to the Beatle with regards from outer space.

Nova’s “Fabric: The Illusion of Time”

While Nova’s TV program is fact and not fiction – with girls in bikini’s or things being blow up – it’s on the cutting edge of space with such entertaining and informative TV as the forthcoming “Fabric: The Illusion of Time” episode set to air July 18.

In turn, this episode of Nova asks you the viewer about “time,” and how “we waste it, save it, kill it, make it. The world runs on it. Yet ask Nova physicists what time actually are, and the answer might shock you.”

For instance, Nova host Brian Greene takes TV viewers on a journey that brings them all the way back to the “Big Bang,” where Doctor Porco and other Nova scientific experts think “the ultimate secrets of time may be hidden in a vortex.”

Image source of Nova TV’s Dr. Carolyn Porco (at right) re-enacting the famous Beatles photograph at Abbey Road with the other members of the Cassini Imaging Team that recently discovered a strange “vortex” over Saturn. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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