Planetary Ring Systems

Praxis, 31 de out de 2006 - 234 páginas

Miner and Wessen have teamed together again, along with noted planetary ring scientist, Dr Jeffrey Cuzzi, to produce the most comprehensive and up-to date book on the topic of planetary rings systems yet written. The book is written in a style and at a language level easily accessible to the interested non-expert. The authors cover the scientific significance of ring studies, the history of their discovery and characterization, the observations of Pioneer 10 at Jupiter, Pioneer 11 and Voyager 1 at Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 at all four giant planets of the solar system, and Galileo at Jupiter. The discussion also includes subsequent scientific analyses of the observations, along with the accompanying theoretical studies, including various theories for the origins of planetary ring systems. Finally, the four ring systems are both compared and contrasted in a chapter on comparative planetology.

Early additional findings from the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn (due to arrive in July 2004) will also be included. The first series of ring orbits by Cassini occur between May and October 2005 and this book will provide the first summary of these detailed observations, the first since the flyby of Voyager 2 in 1981. Images of Saturn, as the Cassini spacecraft approached the planet in spring 2004, revealed a wealth of detail in the ring system, a foretaste of the excitement to come.

Each chapter includes extensive notes, references, figures and tables. A bibliography is also included at the end of each chapter, for those who want to peruse the existing literature. Both a glossary and a topical index will make the book a useful reference tool for planetary scientists as well as for the targeted audience of non-experts.

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Sobre o autor (2006)

Of all the planets, Saturn is the most instantly recognisable to everyone because of its beautiful system of rings, visible in even a small telescope, discovered by Galileo in 1610, but not recognised for what they are until Christiaan Huygens’ observations in 1655. Until 1977, Saturn’s rings were considered unique, but we now know that all four gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are surrounded by ring systems. However, it is true that the rings of Saturn remain in a class of their own.

James Clerk Maxwell’s fascination with the rings of Saturn was made clear in his 1857 Adams Prize essay. After quoting parts of Maxwell’s essay in their recent Scientific American article on rings ["Bejewelled Worlds", special edition entitled New Light on the Solar System, V. 13, No. 3, pp. 74-83, 2003], Burns, Hamilton and Showalter stated, "A century and a half later Saturn’s rings remain a symbol of all that is exotic and wondrous about the universe".

Ellis Miner and Randii Wessen co-authored the successful Springer-Praxis book, Neptune: the planet, rings and satellites, published in December 2001 which has sold 1076 copies worldwide to date.

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