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Topic: NASA’s Cassini Mission

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observes Storm on Saturn devour itself

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail. In a new paper that provides the most detail yet about the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA’s Cassini mission describe how the massive storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out.

It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself in this way anywhere in the solar system.

This set of images from NASA's Cassini mission shows the evolution of a massive thunder-and-lightning storm that circled all the way around Saturn and fizzled when it ran into its own tail. The storm was first detected on Dec. 5th, 2010. That month, it developed a head of bright clouds quickly moving west and spawned a much slower-drifting clockwise-spinning vortex. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)

This set of images from NASA’s Cassini mission shows the evolution of a massive thunder-and-lightning storm that circled all the way around Saturn and fizzled when it ran into its own tail. The storm was first detected on Dec. 5th, 2010. That month, it developed a head of bright clouds quickly moving west and spawned a much slower-drifting clockwise-spinning vortex. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data suggests there maybe Ice on the Lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It’s not exactly icing on a cake, but it could be icing on a lake. A new paper by scientists on NASA’s Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn’s moon Titan.

The presence of ice floes might explain some of the mixed readings Cassini has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes on Titan.

This artist's concept envisions what hydrocarbon ice forming on a liquid hydrocarbon sea of Saturn's moon Titan might look like. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)

This artist’s concept envisions what hydrocarbon ice forming on a liquid hydrocarbon sea of Saturn’s moon Titan might look like. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft takes image of River on Saturn’s Moon Titan that looks like Earth’s Nile River

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth’s Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its “headwaters” to a large sea.

It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth.

This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a vast river system on Saturn's moon Titan. It is the first time images from space have revealed a river system so vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI)

This image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows a vast river system on Saturn’s moon Titan. It is the first time images from space have revealed a river system so vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI)

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

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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)

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)

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NASA’s Cassini mission studies plasma spraying from Saturn’s moon Enceladus

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Recent findings from NASA’s Cassini mission reveal that Saturn’s geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behavior of plasma, or hot ionized gas. In these recent findings, some Cassini scientists think they have observed “dusty plasma,” a condition theorized but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus.

Data from Cassini’s fields and particles instruments also show that the usual “heavy” and “light” species of charged particles in normal plasma are actually reversed near the plume spraying from the moon’s south polar region. The findings are discussed in two recent papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft finds Saturn Moon Phoebe has Planet-Like Qualities

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Data from NASA’s Cassini mission reveal Saturn’s moon Phoebe has more planet-like qualities than previously thought.

Scientists had their first close-up look at Phoebe when Cassini began exploring the Saturn system in 2004. Using data from multiple spacecraft instruments and a computer model of the moon’s chemistry, geophysics and geology, scientists found Phoebe was a so-called planetesimal, or remnant planetary building block. The findings appear in the April issue of the Journal Icarus.

Phoebe's true nature is revealed in startling clarity in this mosaic of two images taken during Cassini's flyby on June 11th, 2004. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Phoebe's true nature is revealed in startling clarity in this mosaic of two images taken during Cassini's flyby on June 11th, 2004. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn garners Top Honor from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, has received the top group honor from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum – the Trophy for Current Achievement. Representatives for Cassini will receive the trophy on March 21st at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C.

“Here we are some 15 years since Cassini launched and it’s amazing how well the spacecraft has operated,” said Charles Elachi, director of JPL. “Thanks to the superb work of both the development team and the operations team, Cassini has been able to show us the beauty and diversity of the Saturn system and, beyond that, to study what is really a miniature solar system in its own right.”

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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