APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
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APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by APOD Robot » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:05 am

Image Cassini Approaches Saturn

Explanation: What would it look like to approach Saturn in a spaceship? One doesn't have to just imagine -- the Cassini spacecraft did just this in 2004, recording thousands of images along the way, and thousands more since entering orbit. Recently, some of these images have been digitally tweaked, cropped, and compiled into the above inspiring video which is part of a larger developing IMAX movie project named Outside In. In the last sequence, Saturn looms increasingly large on approach as cloudy Titan swoops below. With Saturn whirling around in the background, Cassini is next depicted flying over Mimas, with large Herschel Crater clearly visible. Saturn's majestic rings then take over the show as Cassini crosses Saturn's thin ring plane. Dark shadows of the ring appear on Saturn itself. Finally, the enigmatic ice-geyser moon Enceladus appears in the distance and then is approached just as the video clip ends.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Beyond » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:23 am

Saturn must be a little shy today. Every time i click on the small picture, Saturn appears only long enough to see it, then its gone!
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by stowaway » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:51 am

I am a big follower of the Cassini mission and I can appreciate the tremendous amount of time and effort it took to put this together but I am unimpressed. The web video is jerky and jumpy and it all goes by very fast and by the time you make sense of what you are looking at - it's over. Maybe viewing this in a theater would be less frustrating but I'm sure I won't be paying any money to see it. And there must be better music than Barber's Adagio to accompany this. It is traditionally played when great people die. Did someone great die at Saturn? Sorry gang! Nice try but this gets a big thumbs down from me.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by owlice » Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:19 am

The video works well for me; it's very smooth. Maybe let it load first?

I love Cassini and think this is fabulous!
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Boomer12k » Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:39 am

For a 34 megabyte file that is AWESOME!

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by aristata » Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:54 am

As a long-time classical music buff, I thought the Adagio was quite apt here.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Lucidus » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:01 am

As a child, I dreamed of traveling in space. The best images we had back then were Chesley Bonestell's paintings. This video brought tears to my eyes - beautiful and amazing, because the images are real.

Like Arista and unlike Stowaway, I found the music completely appropriate. I can't imagine Barber intended his Adagio to be associated only with death.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by owlice » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:28 am

The Adagio was first composed as the second movement of a string quartet; I suspect Barber did not intend for it to be associated with death. The following movement is marked Presto, not a tempo one usually uses for death.
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by skytours » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:02 am

Wow - what a fantastic piece of work - classic example why I never miss a day visiting this site!

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by stowaway » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:03 am

owlice wrote:The Adagio was first composed as the second movement of a string quartet; I suspect Barber did not intend for it to be associated with death. The following movement is marked Presto, not a tempo one usually uses for death.
I doubt Barber wanted it to be associated with death. It is not "death music", but it is mournful. The Adagio was broadcast over the radio at the announcement of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death. It was also played at the funeral of Albert Einstein and at the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco. It was performed in 2001 at Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks, replacing the traditional upbeat patriotic songs. It was also played during the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. In 2004, listeners of the BBC's Today program voted Adagio for Strings the "saddest classical" work ever, ahead of "Dido's Lament" from Dido and Æneas by Henry Purcell, the "Adagietto" from Gustav Mahler's 5th symphony, Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss, and Gloomy Sunday as sung by Billie Holiday.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by astrogreek » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:30 am

Wow, fantastic. I certainly want to see this movie. But I wonder how much artistic freedom has been taken; did Cassini really pass through the rings, did the moons ever line up like in the clip? I suspect that while all the images may be real, there may some cutting and pasting, and perhaps some (or a lot) of images not in chronological order.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by astrogreek » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:56 am

And why doesn't Saturn rotate? What looks like the spacecraft approaching Saturn is actually (probably) a single, static still image where the movement is from zooming and panning around in the picture. Originally I thought (and hoped) it was from chronologically arranged series of images from the spacecraft. Still, should be one nice movie.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Redbone » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:15 am

As others have mentioned, a lot of artistic freedom here. The moons do not move as we approach Saturn, Saturn does not rotate, which makes the movie seem less realistic. Still very cool.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Mortus » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:18 am

I can't be the only one that saw the Death Star at 1:33.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by owlice » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:40 am

stowaway wrote:
owlice wrote:The Adagio was first composed as the second movement of a string quartet; I suspect Barber did not intend for it to be associated with death. The following movement is marked Presto, not a tempo one usually uses for death.
I doubt Barber wanted it to be associated with death. It is not "death music", but it is mournful. The Adagio was broadcast over the radio at the announcement of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death. It was also played at <snip>. In 2004, listeners of the BBC's Today program voted <snip>
Yes, I know; your point is...? That other people associate it with death? Perhaps they would be better to listen to Schnittke's Piano Quintet.
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Chrisl » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:24 pm

It looks like Cassini is falling into Saturn then just completely defies gravity and flies away.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by geckzilla » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:34 pm

stowaway wrote:I am a big follower of the Cassini mission and I can appreciate the tremendous amount of time and effort it took to put this together but I am unimpressed. The web video is jerky and jumpy and it all goes by very fast and by the time you make sense of what you are looking at - it's over. Maybe viewing this in a theater would be less frustrating but I'm sure I won't be paying any money to see it. And there must be better music than Barber's Adagio to accompany this. It is traditionally played when great people die. Did someone great die at Saturn? Sorry gang! Nice try but this gets a big thumbs down from me.
The problem here lies with your hardware, I suspect. It is an HD (high definition) and sometimes older computers which lack sufficient processing power (or, specifically, sufficient video processing power) are able to smoothly play videos at higher resolutions. Try clicking the "HD" in the lower right corner of the video and see if playback quality improves for you. If it does, your computer is just having a hard time with the higher quality video.
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by geckzilla » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Adagio
I find Adagio to be beautiful and solemn, not funeral music. I think it fits Saturn's flyby very well. I imagine the music would be different for the actual finished movie, however. The music here is probably just for the tests.

Phew, triple post.
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by EFOOZ » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:41 pm

aristata wrote:As a long-time classical music buff, I thought the Adagio was quite apt here.
I agree! And it brings back memories of that classic film, "The Elephant Man," wherein that music was also very apt.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by moonstruck » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:04 pm

Very nice. All the naysayers should just be glad that you got what you got. The video was good and the music was too. Besides it didn't cost us anything.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by gvannucci » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:21 pm

Redbone wrote:As others have mentioned, a lot of artistic freedom here. The moons do not move as we approach Saturn, Saturn does not rotate, which makes the movie seem less realistic. Still very cool.
This movie looks to me like a missed opportunity to show what Cassini's approach would have looked like. The movie is just a collage of randomly chosen pictures from Cassini, twisted, stretched, rotated and juxtaposed in ways that look "artistic" to the creator of the movie. I have nothing against art; indeed, if this movie had been presented to me as an artistic creation inspired by and based on Cassini's pictures, I would have probably found it enjoyable. However, as I was trying to follow the weird twists and turns of the viewpoint, with random moons coming into and out of view at improbable positions relative to a static image of Saturn, with the putative spacecraft on an apparent kamikaze trajectory with more turns than the Montecarlo rallye, I just got a headache.

My experience has been, invariably, that REAL astronomical images are more awe inspiring than any artist's conception. I have seen the movie of the giant red spot of Jupiter evolving and swirling, and I remember seeing a similar movie of Saturn's clouds going around. From the Explanation in today's APOD I was expecting a movie of Cassini's approach to Saturn. I was disappointed. The Explanation was wrong: I still have to imagine it.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Guest » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:23 pm

I'm the filmmaker....

Very honored to have my clip chosen. For the questions so far - this is an art film about space exploration. It's also a work-in-progress clip. This is not the path Cassini followed obviously - creating the motion is far more complicated than stringing a series of images together. The path was chosen by me but all the images are from the spacecraft.

The real challenge though was creating it at this high resolution (32 times HiDef) for IMAX screens as Cassini takes 1024 x 1024 images - some of the composites used in this shot are 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. The processing takes place in 32-bit color which mean each frame is over 1 gigabyte of pixel data at 24 frames per second. What you are seeing here is very low rez even at 1080p.

Per the music, it's a strong choice and usually provokes a strong reaction, pro or con. But the emotion of the music is designed to work for this section of the film.

Thanks again to APOD for featuring and very nice to hear all the compliments here.

stephen

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by Guest » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:28 pm

gvannucci wrote:
Redbone wrote:As others have mentioned, a lot of artistic freedom here. The moons do not move as we approach Saturn, Saturn does not rotate, which makes the movie seem less realistic. Still very cool.
This movie looks to me like a missed opportunity to show what Cassini's approach would have looked like.
If the Cassini team had taken my suggestions, it could have been done but they claim "science" is more important :)

Unfortunately, image data for that approach does not exist anyway - so it could only happen with CGI. The arrangement and placement of the moons is roughly correct. But the Cassini cameras have very long focal lengths and this is a crop/pan & scan of the IMAX 4:3 frame - thus the motion is a bit strange at times. Note, this was just a first footage clip I uploaded 10 months ago and had no idea would end up widely seen.

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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by bystander » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:37 pm

astrogreek wrote:did Cassini really pass through the rings
Cassini crosses the ring plane twice every orbit, sometimes passing directly through it. See: Cassini: The Great Crossing
Mortus wrote:I can't be the only one that saw the Death Star at 1:33.
APOD Robot wrote:Cassini is next depicted flying over Mimas, with large Herschel Crater clearly visible.
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Re: APOD: Cassini Approaches Saturn (2011 Mar 15)

Post by hackerspiff » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:40 pm

The sentiment is nice, and the images are cool, but the video is not factually sound. Cassini does not fly the fantastical trajectories depicted by the animation and NASA generally doesn't fly spacecraft through the dense part of the rings. In fact, I don't believe Cassini ever passed through the rings, am I right?

Moreover, the moons aren't depicted to proper scale with the imagined flight path. They are really just shrunken icons pasted onto a single backdrop of a small number of Saturn images. "Motion" is simply a lot of image scaling.

I would expect a little more scientificly informative out of an APOD page.