Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 9:46 EDT

Latest Saturn Stories

2010-09-22 10:24:13

Titan's northern hemisphere is set for mainly fine spring weather, with polar skies clearing since the equinox in August last year.  Cassini's VIMS instrument has been monitoring clouds on Titan continuously since the spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn.  Now, a team led by S©bastien Rodriguez (AIM laboratory - Universit© Paris Diderot) has used more than 2000 VIMS images to create the first long-term study of Titan's weather that includes the equinox, using...

2010-09-22 08:50:00

Titan, one of Saturn's moons, is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere "” ten times denser than the atmosphere of Earth. Five years ago, the Cassini"“Huygens mission to Saturn, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA, sent a probe through Titan's atmosphere, revealing that Titan is home to a landscape that includes hills, valleys and most notably lakes. A researcher involved with the mission, Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun of Tel Aviv University's Department...

2010-08-17 06:31:28

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has returned Saturnian moon images from its flyby late last week, revealing light and dark contrasts worthy of chiaroscuro painters like Caravaggio. The flyby on August 13 targeted the geyser moon Enceladus, but also brought Cassini close to two other moons--Tethys and Dione. The raw images include the best ones to date of Penelope crater on the icy moon Tethys . Penelope crater, which is 150 kilometers (90 miles) wide, is the second-largest crater on Tethys. Cassini...

2010-08-16 06:50:00

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successfully completed its flyby over the "tiger stripes" in the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus and has sent back images of its passage. The spacecraft also targeted the moon Tethys. The tiger stripes are actually giant fissures that spew jets of water vapor and organic particles hundreds of kilometers, or miles, out into space. While the winter is darkening the moon's southern hemisphere, Cassini has its own version of "night vision goggles" --...

2010-08-14 07:00:00

NASA's Cassini spacecraft started hunting for heat signatures at the "tiger stripes" in the dim south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Friday, Aug. 13. The closest approach will bring the spacecraft to within about 2,500 kilometers (1,600 miles) of the surface of Enceladus. The tiger stripes -- which are actually giant fissures that spew jets of water vapor and organic particles hundreds of kilometers, or miles, out into space - are hard to see in the visible-light spectrum because...

2010-08-13 07:56:14

Saturn's moon Titan ripples with mountains, and scientists have been trying to figure out how they form. The best explanation, it turns out, is that Titan is shrinking as it cools, wrinkling up the moon's surface like a raisin. A new model developed by scientists working with radar data obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows that differing densities in the outermost layers of Titan can account for the unusual surface behavior. Titan is slowly cooling because it is releasing heat from its...

2010-08-04 06:45:00

Space researchers illuminate "Ëœone of the most perplexing puzzles in planetary science' An international team of scientists led by Dr Jonathan Nichols of the University of Leicester has discovered that Saturn's aurora, an ethereal ultraviolet glow which illuminates Saturn's upper atmosphere near the poles, pulses roughly once per Saturnian day. The length of a Saturnian day has been under much discussion since it was discovered that the traditional "Ëœclock' used to...

2010-07-30 06:00:00

A new study finds that the mysterious equatorial dune patterns on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, are the result of gusty winds blowing in the opposite direction of prevailing weather. Titan's vast dunes of tiny organic, hydrocarbon particles cover more than one-fifth of its surface, but one band in particular has puzzled scientists for years. The band's shape suggested it was formed by winds flowing from west to east, despite climate models predicting that surface winds nearly always blow in...

2010-07-20 12:55:00

While orbiting Saturn for the last six years, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has kept a close eye on the collisions and disturbances in the gas giant's rings. They provide the only nearby natural laboratory for scientists to see the processes that must have occurred in our early solar system, as planets and moons coalesced out of disks of debris. New images from Cassini show icy particles in Saturn's F ring clumping into giant snowballs as the moon Prometheus makes multiple swings by the ring. The...

2010-07-16 07:20:00

Ontario Lacus, the largest lake in the southern hemisphere of Saturn's moon Titan, turns out to be a perfect exotic vacation spot, provided you can handle the frosty, subzero temperatures and enjoy soaking in liquid hydrocarbon. Several recent papers by scientists working with NASA's Cassini spacecraft describe evidence of beaches for sunbathing in Titan's low light, sheltered bays for mooring boats, and pretty deltas for wading out in the shallows. They also describe seasonal changes in the...

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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