Source: NASA Science News
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spotted a gigantic hurricane swirling inside a mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as "the hexagon" on Saturn.(read more)
Source: ESA News
The heat-seeking capabilities of the international Cassini spacecraft and two ground-based telescopes have provided the first look at the aftermath of Saturn’s ‘Great Springtime Storm’. Concealed from the naked eye, a giant oval vortex is persisting long after the visible effects of the storm subsided. (read more)
Clumpy particles in Saturn’s B-ring provide stark contrast to the delicately ordered ringlets seen in the rest of this view presented by the Cassini spacecraft.
Saturn’s B-ring is the largest and brightest of the gas giant’s rings, the outer portion of which is seen in the left side of this image.
The ring’s outside edge is influenced by meddling moon Mimas, which orbits the planet once for every two circuits the icy ring particles complete.
These periodic gravity perturbations are thought to compress the ring particles into clumps, while maintaining the ring’s well-defined outer edge.
Beyond the B-ring lies the Huygens gap, the widest dark void visible in this image, punctuated only by the bright Huygens ringlet. The 4800 km-wide Cassini Division separates the B-ring from the outermost A-ring, but itself is marked out with faint, concentric strands of ring material.
From Earth, the Cassini Division appears as a thin black gap in Saturn’s rings, but close-up views from spacecraft expose the delicate structures in fine detail.
This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 10 July 2009 from a distance of 320 000 km from Saturn.
Cassini is a joint mission between ESA, NASA and ASI and has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. It is now in its second extended mission phase, the Cassini Solstice Mission, which will continue until 2017. (read more)
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has shown that water expelled from the moon Enceladus forms a giant torus of water vapour around Saturn. The discovery solves a 14-year mystery by identifying the source of the water in Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
Herschel’s latest results mean that Enceladus is the only moon in the Solar System known to influence the chemical composition of its parent planet.
Enceladus expels around 250 kg of water vapour every second, through a collection of jets from the south polar region known as the Tiger Stripes because of their distinctive surface markings.
These crucial observations reveal that the water creates a doughnut-shaped torus of vapour surrounding the ringed planet.
The total width of the torus is more than 10 times the radius of Saturn, yet it is only about one Saturn radius thick. Enceladus orbits the planet at a distance of about four Saturn radii, replenishing the torus with its jets of water. (read more)