The Cassini spacecraft delivers this stunning vista showing small, battered Epimetheus and smog-enshrouded Titan, with Saturn's A and F rings stretching across the scene.
The prominent dark region visible in the A ring is the Encke Gap, in which the moon Pan and several narrow ringlets reside. Moon-driven features that mark the A ring are easily seen to the left and right of the Encke Gap. The Encke Gap is 325 kilometers (200 miles) wide. Pan is 26 kilometers (16 miles) across.
In an optical illusion, the narrow F ring, outside the A ring, appears to fade across the disk of Titan. A couple of bright clumps can be seen in the F ring.
Epimetheus is 116 kilometers (72 miles) across and giant Titan is 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) across.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 28, 2006, at a distance of approximately 667,000 kilometers (415,000 miles) from Epimetheus and 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Titan. The image captures the illuminated side of the rings. The image scale is 4 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel on Epimetheus and 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel on Titan.
Also, Rusty Schweickart gave a presentation at the International Space Development Conference this year. Here's the transcript of his speech-
NEOs: The Katrinas of the Cosmos?
Russell L. Schweickart
Chairman, B612 Foundation
A brief excerpt-
For those not familiar with the issue let me simply state the entry assumptions for this talk which, should they seem questionable to you, I invite you to speak with me about afterward.
The givens are that 1) the Earth is infrequently hit by asteroids which cross our orbit while circling the Sun, 2) the consequence of such impacts ranges from the equivalent of a 15 megaton (TNT) explosion to a civilization ending gigaton event, and 3) for the first time in the history of humankind we have the technology which, if we are properly prepared, we can use to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.
Given those three assumptions I am going to give an update on the development status of the key elements which will enable us to avoid these devastating cosmic collisions.
The three prerequisite capabilities which will enable us to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, and many smaller disasters as well, are 1) early warning, 2) a demonstrated deflection capability, and 3) an established international decision making process. I’ll address each of these three elements in turn giving a status report on each and pointing out some of the implications of current trends.
As usual, Rusty hits the nail on the head. Here's the $64,000 statement-
for the first time in the history of humankind we have the technology which, if we are properly prepared, we can use to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.
I just wish NASA felt that way...again folks, WHEN we get hit. Not IF.