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Comment Re:sadly, the map is probably already out of date. (Score 4, Informative) 25

Which is exactly what this map is for: geologic analysis, not navigation. As far as it being out of date, the most recent spacecraft data we have is from the 2007 New Horizons flyby, and while it did show changes since the last of the Galileo data from 2001, it wasn't so much as to be unrecognizable, just as the first Galileo images of Io from 1996 didn't reveal a surface that was tremendously different from that seen in the 1979 Voyager data. Besides, while there been some major new flows seen since Galileo (this map does not incorporate New Horizons data), like at Masubi and North Lerna Regio, most of the changes at a global scale are from transient diffuse deposits (fallout from volcanic plumes), which are shown in a supplemental map to the geologic map. No new mountains or volcanic depressions have been seen. Unfortunately, it will be 15 years or more before we get new data to update this map... Likely more since the Jupiter Europa Orbiter is being scaled down, enough to eliminate science during any Io flybys.

Comment Tablets not GPU-limited, they're money-limited (Score 3, Interesting) 198

The graphics capabilities of both the iPad (2nd and 3rd gen) and Tegra 3 tablets are more than capable of playing high quality games. At the very least, direct ports from the last console generation (like GTA III and The Bard's Tale) run just fine on both types of tablet devices. The problem is not the GPU of either Apple or Google's tablets. The problem is money -- how much money are developers willing to spend on producing a game where the max selling price is ~$10 (I've only seen >$15 on the Final Fantasy ports). This limits the scope of mobile games on either OS to either pretty tech demos (like Infinity Blade), games designed to the lowest common device (think Gameloft's games), cheaply designed casual games that don't push the GPU in the slightest (Angry Birds, Jetpack Joyride), or ports of older games (FF Tactics, GTA III, The Bard's Tale).
Don't get me wrong, I love gaming on my iPad (or at least I like it enough to have no desire to get a PS Vita), but there are few games that truly push the GPU because there is just no money in it to do so. Until people are willing to pay $30-40 for a top-notch game on their mobile device, we won't.

and before someone says that touchscreens are another factor, please, that's only a problem with ports (or developers who think touchscreen games are just like console or handheld games without thinking (*cough*EA sports*cough*). Fighting games that require you to hit a bunch of virtual buttons are wretched on a touch screen device. fighting games like Infinity Blade are pretty fun because they take advantage of the touch screen, rather than treat the screen like a virtual controller. I actually did like GTA III, but I often had to find alternative ways to complete missions because running and gunning was more difficult than using the sniper rifle.

Comment Re:Tablet... Is Not An Ebook Reader... (Score 1) 418

Umm, okay. So I should just stop now? Despite the fact that the last eight books I've read (including The Stand which I've am working through now) were on iBooks or the Kindle reader app... True, reading on a tablet may not be for everyone, but since it is the one device that is almost guaranteed to be on my person (except for when I go shopping...), I think I will just stick with that...

Comment Re:What apps? (Score 2) 55

The problem is that is a planetarium app. There are plenty of those in the app store. I particularly like SkySafari Pro. It's expensive but excellent. No, what I want is Celestia, which I use more to see what Cassini is up to at any given time, since I have Celestia set up on my desktop to show its position and its orientation (from knowledge of where the instruments are on the spacecraft, you can then see where the cameras are pointed at any given time). Putting yourself at Cassini's position also gives you an interactive way of looking how far away Saturn or Titan are at any given moment.

Comment Been using it since the fork (Score 1) 242

I've had LibreOffice installed on my laptop ever since I bought it last year. I typically use MS Office but I really didn't feel like paying for yet ANOTHER licence of it in addition to the one on my desktop. LibreOffice has been pretty solid for me over this past year, though I wish it had better support for DOCX...

Comment Re:Weather (Score 1) 110

We can't make reliable weather forecasts for Titan either... But at least we have an excuse, we've only observed Titan's weather patterns from the Titan equivalent of mid-December (when Earth-based observations of sufficient resolution began in 2002) to the equivalent of early- to mid-April (where we are now). And even then the data set (even from Cassini) is pretty sporadic. But I do have one reliable way of knowing when there won't be clouds on Titan. Acquire images of it with an observation with the word "CLOUD" in it, like ISS_147TI_CLOUD002_PRIME

Comment Re:Meh, I've seen bigger... (Score 1) 109

Sorry, this was a bit of an inside joke. I am a planetary geologist, so yes, it is pretty interesting when we can add another large impact basin to the ones we can study right here on Earth.

The joke comes from the first time I went on a field trip to Meteor Crater east of Flagstaff, Arizona. Because I've done some work on the eroded impact craters of Titan, all I said was "Meh, I've seen bigger" because all the crater on Titan are bigger than the mile-wide Barringer crater.

Comment Re:It's not just hardware (Score 4, Interesting) 184

It also affects proposals to NASA that have ANY international collaborators. When sending out various drafts, we have either ITAR-safe or ITAR-unsafe versions because foreign citizens not working in the US are not allowed to even read vague descriptions of hardware, let alone have the hardware. So for the ITAR-safe version, whole sections of the proposal have to be removed for the safety of our foreign collaborators. After all, if you know how to build a [redacted for your safety], you must be a terrorist...

Hints of Life Found On Saturn's Moon Titan 227

Calopteryx writes "New Scientist reports that in 2005, researchers predicted two potential signatures of life on Titan. Now, thanks to research done with the help of the Cassini spacecraft, both have been seen, although non-biological chemical reactions could also be behind the observations. NASA's writeup has further details: 'One key finding comes from a paper online now in the journal Icarus [abstract] that shows hydrogen molecules flowing down through Titan's atmosphere and disappearing at the surface. Another paper online now in the Journal of Geophysical Research maps hydrocarbons on the Titan surface and finds a lack of acetylene. This lack of acetylene is important because that chemical would likely be the best energy source for a methane-based life on Titan, said Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., who proposed a set of conditions necessary for this kind of methane-based life on Titan in 2005. One interpretation of the acetylene data is that the hydrocarbon is being consumed as food. But McKay said the flow of hydrogen is even more critical because all of their proposed mechanisms involved the consumption of hydrogen.'"

Impact On Jupiter Observed By Amateur Astronomers 53

Omomyid and other readers send in the news that the bright flash of an impact on Jupiter has been observed — and caught on film — by amateur astronomers. That WMV is from amateur Christopher Go. Here's Anthony Wesley's video (45 MB AVI; the site is already overloaded). In the larger video you can see the impact lasting for a couple of seconds, and a good deal of structure is visible. The amateurs report that no dark debris field developed around the impact site in the time before it rotated out of sight; this may indicate that the impactor burned up high in Jupiter's atmosphere. Soon professional astronomers, and possibly Hubble, will be on the job.

Submission + - New Evidence for a Magma Ocean at Io (sciencemag.org)

volcanopele writes: New analysis of magnetometer data acquired by NASA's Galileo Spacecraft between 1995 and 2001 has revealed evidence for an induced magnetic field at Io, the innermost of Jupiter's four Galilean satellites. During the mission, similar data revealed induced fields at the other Galilean satellites, resulting from electrical currents induced by Jupiter's magnetic field within liquid water oceans beneath their surfaces. With very little water on Io and given Io's intense volcanic activity, the scientists involved in the analysis suggest that the field is created within a silicate magma ocean 50 kilometers below the surface. The article itself is behind a pay-wall, but additional discussion of these results has been written at the Gish Bar Times.

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