Latest Saturn Stories

2010-12-01 10:17:41

New images and data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft give scientists a unique Saturn-lit view of active fissures through the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. They reveal a more complicated web of warm fractures than previously thought. The new images are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. Scientists working jointly with Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer and its high-resolution imaging camera have constructed the highest-resolution...

2010-11-26 08:15:00

A NASA probe has discovered oxygen in the atmosphere of one of Saturn's moons, discovering the element alongside carbon dioxide in the thing exosphere of the icy satellite known as Rhea. According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, instruments onboard the Cassini probe were able to acquire samples of both elements in March, when it passed within 100km of Saturn's second largest moon. The results reveal that there is an extremely thin layer of oxygen and carbon dioxide in Rhea's atmosphere, and...

2010-11-12 09:30:00

Ed Stone, project scientist for NASA's Voyager mission, remembers the first time he saw the kinks in one of Saturn's narrowest rings. It was the day the Voyager 1 spacecraft made its closest approach to the giant ringed planet, 30 years ago. Scientists were gathering in front of television monitors and in one another's offices every day during this heady period to pore over the bewildering images and other data streaming down to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Stone drew...

2010-11-10 11:40:00

Like a cosmic lightbulb on a dimmer switch, Saturn emitted gradually less energy each year from 2005 to 2009, according to observations by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. But unlike an ordinary bulb, Saturn's southern hemisphere consistently emitted more energy than its northern one. On top of that, energy levels changed with the seasons and differed from the last time a spacecraft visited Saturn in the early 1980s. These never-before-seen trends came from a detailed analysis of long-term data...

2010-11-10 09:25:00

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., expect the Cassini spacecraft will resume normal operations on Nov. 24. They have traced the steps taken by an onboard computer before Cassini put itself in precautionary "safe mode" last week. Mission managers determined that the spacecraft went into safe mode because of a flip of a bit in the command and data system computer. The bit flip prevented the computer from registering an important instruction, and the spacecraft, as...

2010-11-05 10:45:00

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are working to understand what caused NASA's Cassini spacecraft to put itself into "safe mode," a precautionary standby mode. Cassini entered safe mode around 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Since going into safe mode, the spacecraft has performed as expected, suspending the flow of science data and sending back only data about engineering and spacecraft health. Cassini is programmed to put itself into safe mode...

2010-11-02 13:37:53

Earth is invitingly blue. Mars is angry red. Venus is brilliant white. Astronomers have learned that a planet's "true colors" can reveal important details. For example, Mars is red because its soil contains rusty red stuff called iron oxide. And the famous tint of our planet, the "blue marble"? It's because the atmosphere scatters blue light rays more strongly than red ones. Therefore the atmosphere looks blue from above and below. Planets around other stars probably exhibit a rainbow of...

2010-11-02 06:50:00

Scientists believe they finally understand why one of the most dynamic regions in Saturn's rings has such an irregular and varying shape, thanks to images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. And the answer, published online November 1 in the Astronomical Journal, is this: The rings are behaving like a miniature version of our own Milky Way galaxy. This new insight, garnered from images of Saturn's most massive ring, the B ring, may answer another long-standing question: What causes the...

2010-10-31 08:45:00

As NASA's two Voyager spacecraft hurtle towards the edge of our solar system, a new project manager will shepherd the spacecraft into this unexplored territory: Suzanne Dodd, whose first job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., involved sequencing science and engineering commands for Voyager 1 and 2 in 1984."I'm thrilled to re-join a pioneering mission that set up adventures for so many other spacecraft to follow," Dodd said. "There will be more firsts to come as we gather...

2010-10-27 15:23:00

GREENBELT, Md., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The magnetometers developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the Juno mission to Jupiter were delivered recently to Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colo. Designed and built by an in-house team of Goddard scientists, engineers and technicians, this instrument will map the planet's magnetic field with great accuracy and observe its variations over time. Each of the two vector magnetometers carries with it a pair of...

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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Word of the Day
  • The navel or umbilicus.
  • In Greek archaeology: A central boss, as on a shield, a bowl, etc.
  • A sacred stone in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, believed by the Greeks to mark the 'navel' or exact center-point of the earth.
'Omphalos' comes from the ancient Greek.