Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Latest Saturn Stories

2010-10-20 09:35:00

Taking a long-weekend road trip, NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully glided near nine Saturnian moons, sending back a stream of raw images as mementos of its adrenaline-fueled expedition. The spacecraft sent back particularly intriguing images of the moons Dione and Rhea. The Dione and Rhea pictures are the highest-resolution views yet of parts of their surfaces. The views of the southern part of Dione's leading hemisphere (the part of the moon that faces forward in its orbit around...

2010-10-11 08:03:55

By Daniel Stolte, University of Arizona Simulating possible chemical processes in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, a UA-led planetary research team found amino acids and nucleotide bases in the mix -- the most important ingredients of life on Earth In an experiment exploring the chemical processes that might be going on in the hazy atmosphere enshrouding Saturn's largest moon, a University of Arizona-led team of scientists discovered a variety of complex organic molecules...

2010-10-08 06:31:49

Scientists using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have learned that distinctive, colorful bands and splotches embellish the surfaces of Saturn's inner, mid-size moons. The reddish and bluish hues on the icy surfaces of Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione and Rhea appear to be the aftermath of bombardments large and small. A paper based on the findings was recently published online in the journal Icarus. In it, scientists describe prominent global patterns that trace the trade routes for...

2010-10-07 10:15:00

The rings of Saturn could have formed after a moon the size of Titan crashed into the developing planet, a researcher from the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in Boulder suggested earlier this week. Speaking during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Science in Pasadena, California, SWRI researcher Robin Canup suggested that the satellite likely had a mantle made of ice and a rocky core, and that tidal forces might have dislodged chunks of the mantle...

2010-10-07 07:35:00

Saturn's icy moon Enceladus should not be one of the most promising places in our solar system to look for extraterrestrial life. Instead, it should have frozen solid billions of years ago. Located in the frigid outer solar system, it's too far from the sun to have oceans of liquid water -- a necessary ingredient for known forms of life -- on its surface. Some worlds, like Mars or Jupiter's moon Europa, give hints that they might harbor liquid water beneath their surfaces. Mars is about 4,200...

2010-09-28 10:17:02

Turning a midsummer night's dream into reality, NASA's Cassini spacecraft began its new mission extension -- the Cassini Solstice Mission -- on Monday. The mission extension will take Cassini a few months past Saturn's northern summer solstice (or midsummer) through September 2017. It will enable scientists to study seasonal changes and other long-term weather changes on Saturn and its moons. Cassini had arrived just after Saturn's northern winter solstice in 2004, and the extension continues...

2010-09-27 10:22:38

The Cassini spacecraft has made the first observations from within the radio aurora of another planet than Earth. The measurements, which were taken when the spacecraft flew through an active auroral region in 2008, show some similarities and some contrasts between the radio auroral emissions generated at Saturn and those at Earth.  Results were presented last week by Dr Laurent Lamy at the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome, and recently published in Geophysical Research...

2010-09-24 11:25:14

A new movie and images showing Saturn's shimmering aurora over a two-day period are helping scientists understand what drives some of the solar system's most impressive light shows. The movie and images are part of a new study that, for the first time, extracts auroral information from the entire catalogue of Saturn images taken by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument (VIMS) aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft. These images and preliminary results are being presented by Tom...

2010-09-24 06:19:39

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will swing high over Saturn's moon Titan on Friday, Sept. 24, taking a long, sustained look at the hazy moon. At closest approach, Cassini will fly within 8,175 kilometers (5,080 miles) above the hazy moon's surface. This flyby is the first in a series of high-altitude Titan flybys for Cassini over the next year and a half. Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer instrument will be probing Titan's stratosphere to learn more about its vertical structure as the...

2010-09-22 14:15:00

How do scientists decide what images the Cassini spacecraft should take of Saturn and its moons? Students have the opportunity to learn the scientific process when they enter Cassini's Scientist for a Day Essay Contest. The contest is for students in grades 5 through 12. The deadline for entries is Wed., Oct. 27, 2010, at noon Pacific Time. Students will be presented with three scientifically interesting locations around Saturn or its moons for the Cassini spacecraft to capture. They will...

Latest Saturn Reference Libraries

2004-10-19 04:45:44

Cassini-Huygens Mission -- The Cassini unmanned space probe is intended to study Saturn and its moons. It was launched on October 15, 1997 and is estimated to enter Saturn's orbit on July 1, 2004. The mission is a joined NASA/ESA project. Cassini's principal objectives are to: -- determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamical behavior of the rings -- determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object -- determine the nature and...

Gas Giant
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Gas Giant -- A gas giant is a generic astronomical term invented by the science fiction writer James Blish to describe any large planet that is not composed mostly of rock or other solid matter. Gas giants may still have a solid core - in fact, it is expected that such a core is probably required for a gas giant to form - but the majority of its mass is in the form of gas (or gas compressed into a liquid state). Unlike rocky planets, gas giants do not have a well-defined surface. There...

2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Neptune -- Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant. Orbiting so far from the sun, Neptune receives very little heat. Its 'surface' temperature is -218 degrees Celsius (below zero). However, the planet seems to have an internal source of heat. It is thought that this may be leftover heat generated by infalling matter during the planet's birth, now slowly radiating away into space. Neptune's atmosphere has the highest wind speeds in the solar system, up to...

2004-10-19 04:45:41

Uranus -- Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. It is a gas giant. Physical characteristics Uranus is composed primarily of rock and various ices, with only about 15% hydrogen and a little helium (in contrast to Jupiter and Saturn which are mostly hydrogen). Uranus (and Neptune) are in many ways similar to the cores of Jupiter and Saturn minus the massive liquid metallic hydrogen envelope. It appears that Uranus does not have a rocky core like Jupiter and Saturn but rather...

2004-10-19 04:45:41

Saturn's moon Phoebe -- Phoebe is the outermost of Saturn's known moons. Phoebe is almost 4 times more distant from Saturn than its nearest neighbor (Iapetus). It was discovered by William Henry Pickering in 1898. Most of Saturn's moons have very bright surfaces, but Phoebe's albedo is very low (.06), as dark as lampblack. All of Saturn's moons except for Phoebe and Iapetus orbit very nearly in the plane of Saturn's equator. Phoebe's orbit is retrograde, inclined almost 175, and is...

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