Posted in Animals, Funny Stuff, Nature, Oddities, Travel With Margy!, Wow!

It’s A Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…A Frog!

Gotta run, man

Ground control to Major Frog
Ground control to Major Frog
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
(Ten) Ground control (Nine) to Major Frog (Eight)
(Seven, six) Commencing countdown (Five), polliwog (Four)
(Three, two) Check ignition (One) and may pond (Blastoff) scum be with you

This is ground control to Major Frog, you’ve really made the glade
And the gators want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the swamp land if you dare

This is Major Frog to ground control, I’m hopping through the door
And I’m croaking in a most peculiar way
And the flies look very different today
Here am I sitting on a lily pad far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my tadpole knows which way to go
Tell my mate I ate her insect lunch, she knows
Ground control to Major Frog, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you ribbit, Major Frog?
Can you ribbit, Major Frog?
Can you ribbit, Major Frog?
Can you…
Here am I sitting on a lily pad far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

::single tear::

No dude, really. It’s a frog. Well, was a frog.

More here at Io9: http://bit.ly/18UErDB

 

Posted in Titan, Travel With Margy!, Wow!

Bouncing on Titan

Call me a news-isolated American, but I had no idea that the European Space Agency had landed a probe (Huygens) on one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. This happened in 2005. The probe separated from the Cassini spacecraft, then parachuted down to the surface. It took about 6 or 7 years to get there and is still the only earth artifact in the outer solar system. This brave little pioneer took a bunch of probe-y tests, listening to the winds in the atmosphere via an external microphone and examining every thing it could get its little probes on. They designed it so that it could land in liquid as well as on solid ground. Oh, yeah, the place has liquid – not just water, though. Its polar lakes are made up of liquid hydrocarbons. Titan has a methane atmosphere (remember to bring your space suit) and the surface is covered with some kind of thin methane haze. There is also water ice, which appears to make up the actual surface. Scientists have described that as sandy but with the sand made up of tiny water ice particles. The probe took a picture of what look like pebbles, but these also seem to be made of water despite their appearance. Actually, they look exactly like river pebbles. That’s got to make you wonder.

Water ice pebbles and surface “sand”

Amazing. This is an enhancement of the one and only photo Huyens sent back. But – but! – scientists could recreate the probe’s landing based on the data it was sending back. They know how it descended and how it landed. NASA made a neat video of this, which had me searching for the YouTube version for an hour.

This makes the science fiction geek in me jump up and howl at the nearest…whatever is in the sky. Hopefully not a satellite because that would be really embarassing.