GeekSpeak for 2004-06-25

The Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft and the Mysteries of Saturn and Titan

Joe Jordan, planetary and atmospheric modeler for the SETI Institute

(Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), joins the geeks to discuss his work modeling the atmosphere of Saturn’s
moon Titan, where the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will arrive in July 2004. This seven-year journey to Saturn will place the Cassini spacecraft into a four-year orbit around the planet to measure its magnetosphere and will analyze the composition of Saturn’s famous rings
and its atmosphere. In December 2004, Cassini will eject the Huygens probe that will descend into Saturn’s mysterious
moon of Titan. If Huygen’s survives the impact of the landing upon the frozen moon, it will be the furthest human-made
object ever to land on a celestial body. (Cassini-Huygens image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)


The Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft and the Mysteries of Saturn and Titan = 2]/imagedata/@fileref
Joe Jordan, planetary and atmospheric
modeler for the SETI Institute
(Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), joins the geeks to discuss his work modeling the atmosphere of Saturn’s
moon Titan, where the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will arrive in July 2004. This seven-year journey to Saturn will place the Cassini spacecraft into a four-year orbit around the planet to measure its magnetosphere and will analyze the composition of Saturn’s famous rings
and its atmosphere. In December 2004, Cassini will eject the Huygens probe that will descend into Saturn’s mysterious
moon of Titan. If Huygen’s survives the impact of the landing upon the frozen moon, it will be the furthest human-made
object ever to land on a celestial body. (Cassini-Huygens image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft and the Mysteries of Saturn and Titan = 2]/imagedata/@fileref
Joe Jordan has worked at the NASA Ames Research Center for
over 20 years, on projects ranging from a flying observatory
for infrared astronomy, to studies of the polar stratospheric
ozone layer, to the search for planets around other stars, to
image analysis from Mars landers and rovers. He’s also been
teaching science and math in area public schools; leads
stargazing and “physics-in-nature” hikes for various organizations;
and teaches renewable energy at Cabrillo and the Monterey Institute
of International Studies. He’s had some success getting solar
electric systems installed on area schools and other public
buildings.
At NASA he is currently employed by the SETI Institute, which
supports a broad array of research on astronomy and biology,
bearing upon questions of the origins of life and where else
it might exist, besides Earth. Last fall he went to Chile’s
rather unearthly Atacama Desert to an area where it’s so dry that
even microbes don’t make it.