I so much would like to see 'actual' pictures. Do we even have any helpful data about the moon's surface? Is this picture mostly imagination? Atleast the artist did not paint in a vacation spot, with charming Triton babes, lounging on soft sand and offering a very cool drink to fly-boys!
Well this is the closest the imagination can get and provides outstanding accuracy and pretty realistic part from the fact Neptune would be a bit smaller in the sky and has faintish browney grey rings. Well it would make a good space ski resort :p
This is amazing :D Props to whoever made it. Will be interesting to see how it matches up to images probes take from the surface in the future :) (Hopefully)
Many many years ago I saw some sort of documentary of the early days of exploring the Solar System, and it talked about the dawning realization that in just a few years a "window" would open allowing a probe (or probes) to be sent to Uranus and Neptune. The problem is without using the "slingshot" effect, it's almost impossible for mere rockets to send anything further out than Jupiter. So Jupiter and the outer gas giants have to line up just right... and one of those windows was just a few years away--the next wouldn't be for well over a hundred years.
Give NASA, et. al., props; they pulled it off on fairly short notice!
The next such window won't be for well over a hundred years if memory serves. However, that was an opportunity to study Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune with one probe. The thing that is so rare is the proper alignment of Uranus and Neptune so that one probe can swing past them both as it bullets out of the solar system. If you want to send a probe to Neptune only, you probably have a decent opportunity every twelve years or so. If you want it to orbit Neptune, like Cassini and Galileo did with Saturn and Jupiter, respectively, that's going to be much more complex since you must bring along the fuel necessary to change the speed of the craft once you get there. Slingshots off of Jupiter generally boost your velocity to enough to completely leave the solar system (solar escape velocity). So the spacecraft will have to be massive, and our rockets simply aren't that powerful--we can get the thing off the ground but not moving fast enough to make it to Jupiter, much less Neptune. We will end up having to play sling shot ping ping with Earth, Venus, Mars perhaps, just to get the thing to Jupiter, so it can slingshot to Neptune. (Galileo had to slingshot off of Venus once and Earth twice, building speed each time, before it could get to Jupiter.)
This is a good article if you are curious how gravity assist "slingshots" work--I know many people here don't have a proper understanding of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_assist
A little more info here
BBC programs not available in the US. However, I found it (I think) on Youtube:
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