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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sees rolling storms over Saturn’s Poles

Posted By News Staff On Sunday, December 2, 2012 @ 1:30 am In Technology | No Comments

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration [1]Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits that give mission scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn’s polar regions.

This perspective has yielded images of rolling storm clouds and a swirling vortex at the center of Saturn’s famed north polar hexagon.

This image from NASA's Cassini mission was taken on Nov. 27th, 2012, with Cassini's narrow-angle camera. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) [2]

This image from NASA’s Cassini mission was taken on Nov. 27th, 2012, with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

NASA’s Cassini Mission

These phenomena mimic what Cassini found at Saturn’s south pole a number of years ago. Cassini has also seen storms circling Saturn’s north pole in the past, but only in infrared wavelengths because the north pole was in darkness. (See http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2008-192 [3] .)

But, with the change of the Saturnian seasons, the sun has begun to creep over the planet’s north pole.

This image from NASA's Cassini mission was taken on Nov. 27th, 2012, with Cassini's narrow-angle imaging camera. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) [4]

This image from NASA’s Cassini mission was taken on Nov. 27th, 2012, with Cassini’s narrow-angle imaging camera. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This particular set of raw, unprocessed images was taken on November 27th, 2012, from a distance of about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) from Saturn.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO.


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