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Enceladus Lights Up Saturn’s Inner Moons

19 Sep 2019, 17:35 UTC
Enceladus Lights Up Saturn’s Inner Moons
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In his wonderful account of the rocket that never was (Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, 2002), George Dyson discusses his father’s thoughts on taking the craft to the moons of Saturn. Freeman Dyson and other Orion colleagues wanted to land on a moon to pick up propellant, but thought the moons of Jupiter were trickier than Saturn’s because of the depth of the Jovian gravity well. Anyway, Enceladus was a kind of beacon, and it was there Dyson fixed his attention. George Dyson quotes Freeman on the matter:
“We knew very little about the satellites in those days. Enceladus looked particularly good. It was known to have a density of .618, so it clearly had to be made of ice plus hydrocarbons, really light things; which were what you need both for biology and for propellant, so you could imagine growing your vegetables there. Five-one-thousandths g on Enceladus is a very gentle gravity, just enough so that you won’t jump off.”
As George noted, Enceladus was a long way from La Jolla, CA (where General Atomic had moved in 1958 to a 300-acre facility above the beaches near Torrey Pines), some 9 astronomical units, but the ...

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