Happy Holidays from ThinkTank Maths 2017

19 December 2017

Saturn - Image by Kevin Gill. Cassini model by Brian Kumanchik and Christian Lopez (NASA/JPL Caltech)

ThinkTank Maths has chosen this year to celebrate the extraordinary Cassini-Huygens mission to the rings and moons of Saturn and the extremely touching moment of the Cassini orbiter’s planned demise on the 15th September 2017… after more than 27 years of intensive work for some of the scientists who contributed to the project, a journey of 7 years in the immense void of space, covering 2 billion miles and then 10 years of data-gathering in the orbit of Saturn.

However, the achievement does not just lie in the display of these incredibly impressive numbers but, in our opinion, more in the outstanding subtle analysis of the data received back on earth and its dynamic and rapid use to modify and re-direct the mission leading to the discovery of surprising local phenomena totally unexpected in the Solar System by the expert scientific team, such as an ‘Earth-like’ weather system on Saturn’s giant moon Titan but with lakes, seas, clouds and rain of methane rather than water and ‘sand-like’ dunes made of iron-hard plastic, the discovery of seven new moons around Saturn (a new total of 62 moons), an underground ocean of water on one of these moon and gigantic geysers of water vapour and ice feeding Saturn’s rings, to name but a few.

The successful harvest of information from this deep-space mission fills us with delight! It is indeed a very important part of the activity of ThinkTank Maths to seek to extract complex and unexpected information from heterogeneous, non-specific datasets through the development of innovative mathematics in order to understand an environment or a given situation, prevent accidents or equipment failures, or (more routinely) steer the drilling operation of a subsurface wellbore whilst avoiding unknown obstacles.

This year, to try to put you in a similar situation, and thus celebrate the remarkable exploits of the Cassini mission, we invite you to play a little Christmas-themed game where you will have to try to navigate your route using data which (at first) seems to give you no obvious or immediate useful information to guide you to your destination.

Click here to play the game!

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