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Saturn's Atmosphere - New Discoveries


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 09:31 PM

Saturn's Storms Run Rings Around Earth's

04.18.06

On Saturn, it may be a very long wait for the calm after a storm. As big and destructive as hurricanes on Earth can be, at least they don't last long. Not like those on Saturn, where storms may rage for months or years. Viewed from space, hurricanes on Earth and the huge atmospheric disturbances observed on Saturn look similar. But their differences are greater and offer intriguing insights into the inner workings of the ringed world being investigated by scientists on NASA's Cassini mission.

user posted image
Image above: Two Saturnian storms swirl in the region informally dubbed
"storm alley" by scientists.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
+ View details


Earth's hurricanes and Saturn's storms each have swirling clouds, convection, rain and strong rotating winds. "Hurricanes on Earth are low pressure centers at the ground and high pressures at the top where the storms flatten out," says Dr. Andrew Ingersoll, member of the Cassini imaging team and professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.  "Storms on Saturn could be like hurricanes if what we're seeing is the top of the clouds."

The frequency of storms on Saturn seems to be about the same as on Earth, and the fraction of planet occupied by storms is also similar. Not surprisingly, since Saturn is so much larger than Earth -- nine Earths would fit across its equator--its storms are bigger. Hurricane Katrina stretched more than 380 kilometers (240 miles) across, for example, while two storms the Cassini spacecraft spotted in February 2002 each extend more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in diameter, about the size of Texas or France.

On Earth, hurricane winds can exceed 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour), similar to the speed of the jet stream, just about the fastest wind on the planet. Though spinning furiously, hurricanes travel along at a much slower pace -- eight to 32 kilometers per hour (five to 20 miles per hour). Saturn is different because its jet stream is much stronger. "Saturn's a very windy place," says Ingersoll. "The jet stream on Saturn blows ten times faster than on Earth, up to a thousand miles per hour." Saturn's winds are like conveyor belts between which storms appear to roll like ball bearings, he explains. "While we don't know the wind speeds within the storms, a good guess is that they are slower than the winds in the jet stream."

user posted image
Image above: Hurricane Isidore as viewed
from the Atmospheric Infrared
Sounding System (AIRS) on Aqua.
Credit: NASA/JPL
+ More on Aqua


What most distinguish storms on Saturn from those on Earth are the forces that drive them and physical differences between the two planets.

The heat that drives hurricanes on Earth comes from the oceans, vast reservoirs of solar energy. The oceans are also the source of moisture for convection, which draws energy from the ocean into the atmosphere and creates storm clouds and driving rainfall. Hurricanes quickly fade once they make landfall, once the plug is pulled on their power source.

The fuel for Saturn's storms is quite different. The interior of the planet acts like an ocean and stores energy, but the energy does not come from the sun. "Saturn makes it own heat, which it got when the pieces that made the planet crashed together during the violent history of the early solar system," says Ingersoll.

Saturn's atmosphere has all the ingredients necessary for hurricane-like storms including heat and water vapor, he continues, so there's no need for that first step in hurricane development where the ocean evaporates. And, without a solid surface like Earth's ocean, Saturn's storms behave very differently.

user posted image
Image above: The Dragon Storm.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
+ View details


"You'd think that when two storms merge, for example, that you'd get a bigger storm," says Ingersoll, "but they seem to stay the same size. They can also split apart. They may go on forever, merging and splitting."

Scientists will be able to study Saturn's storms more closely next year, when the Cassini spacecraft tours a region in the southern hemisphere mission scientists that call storm alley.

With the exception of a few storms, like the dramatic Dragon Storm observed by the Cassini spacecraft last year, most of Saturn's storms are unnamed, unlike those on Earth. That may change, says Ingersoll, when scientists get to know them better.

Written by Rosemary Sullivant


Source: NASA - Missions - Cassini

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 02:00 PM

'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds at Saturn

October 5, 2006
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

A new image of Saturn demonstrates a technique that creates a 'Chinese lantern' effect, showing Saturn's deep clouds silhouetted against the planet's warm, glowing interior. Seen this way, Saturn's interior shows surprising activity underneath the overlying haze, with a great variety of cloud shapes and sizes.

Because upper-level hazes and clouds obscure the view of these deep clouds in visible light, imaging clouds in the depths of Saturn is not practical using visible-light cameras. Several recent images obtained by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer were combined in a way that highlights the deep clouds in silhouette against the background radiation of heat generated by Saturn's interior. This literally lights the planet from the inside, like a lantern.

user posted image
The image was made with data from Cassini's
visual and infrared mapping spectrometer,
which can image the planet at 352 different
wavelengths.


Clouds and hazes in Saturn's northern hemisphere are noticeably thinner than those in its southern hemisphere. This is thought to be a seasonal effect; this idea will be tested as Saturn's northern hemisphere enters springtime in the next few years.

Bright red colors indicate areas relatively free of deep-level clouds and particles, while darker red colors are cloudy regions. Images like these show Saturn's deep clouds under both daytime and nighttime conditions.

The image, produced by team members at the University of Arizona, Tucson, is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov, and http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.

A slide show featuring colorful images of Saturn and Titan is available at http://www.jpl.nasa....cassini-200609/.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. 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, Boulder, Colo.

Contacts:
Carolina Martinez 818-354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

NEWS RELEASE: 2006-119

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini - Press Release

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 09 October 2006 - 05:03 PM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#3    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 05:09 PM

user posted image

Saturn's Silhouetted Clouds
October 6, 2006

This false-color mosaic of Saturn shows deep-level clouds silhouetted against Saturn's glowing interior. The image was made with data from Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, which can image the planet at 352 different wavelengths.
This mosaic shows the entire planet, including features like Saturn's ring shadows and the terminator, the boundary between day and night.

The data were obtained in February 2006 at a distance of 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles) from directly over the plane of Saturn's rings, which appear here as a thin, blue line over the equator. The image was constructed from images taken at wavelengths of 1.07 microns shown in blue, 2.71 microns shown in green, and 5.02 microns shown in red.

The blue-green color (lower right) is sunlight scattered off clouds high in Saturn's atmosphere and the red color (upper left) is the glow of thermal radiation from Saturn's warm interior, easily seen on Saturn's night side (top left), within the shadow of the rings, and with somewhat less contrast on Saturn's day side (bottom right). The darker areas within Saturn show the strongest thermal radiation. The bright red color indicates areas where Saturn's atmosphere is relatively clear. The great variety of cloud shapes and sizes reveals a surprisingly active planet below the overlying sun-scattering haze.

The brighter glow of the northern hemisphere versus the southern indicates that the clouds and hazes there are noticeably thinner than those in the south. Scientists speculate that this is a seasonal effect, and if so, it will change as the northern hemisphere enters springtime during the next few years.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team homepage is at http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#4    RollingThunder06

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:17 AM

It is amazing how they can come up with ways to enhance the images. They are beautiful.

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#5    fangs

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 10:10 AM

Truely awsome pics.Just thinking of the things we humans are capable of gives me hope for my children and my childrens children.  original.gif


#6    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:56 PM

Cassini Image Shows Saturn Draped in a String of Pearls

October 11, 2006
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Saturn appears dressed to the nines, "wearing" a strand of "pearls" in a stunning infrared image from the Cassini spacecraft that showcases a meteorological phenomenon.

The image, acquired by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, shows Saturn lit by its own internal, thermal glow. Clearly visible is a 60,000-kilometer-long (37,000 miles) string of bright "pearls," which are actually clearings in Saturn's deep cloud system.

user posted image
In this image, Saturn's fascinating meteorology
manifests itself in a "string of pearls" formation,
spanning over 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles).


The image is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov , and http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu .

The findings are being presented today at the Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Pasadena, Calif.

More than two dozen cloud clearings appear at Saturn's north latitude. Each clearing follows another at a regular spacing of about 3.5 degrees in longitude. This is the first time such a regular and extensive train of cloud clearings has been observed, indicating that they may be a result of a large planetary cloud formation or wave that might encircle the whole planet.

Scientists plan to continue observing this phenomenon over the next few years to try to learn more about Saturn's deep circulation systems and meteorology.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. 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, Boulder, Colo.

Contacts:
Carolina Martinez 818-354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

NEWS RELEASE: 2006-125

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini - Press Release

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#7    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 10:00 PM

user posted image

String of Pearls
October 11, 2006

In this image, Saturn's fascinating meteorology manifests itself in a "string of pearls" formation, spanning over 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles).
Seen in new images acquired by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer and lit from below by Saturn's internal thermal glow, the bright "pearls" are actually clearings in Saturn's deep cloud system. More than two dozen occur at 40 degrees north latitude. Each clearing follows another at a regular spacing of some 3.5 degrees in longitude.

This is the first time such a regular and extensive train of cloud-clearings has been observed. The regularity indicates that they may be a manifestation of a large planetary wave. Scientists plan to take more observations of this phenomenon over the next few years to try to understand Saturn's deep circulation systems and meteorology. This image was taken on April 27, 2006.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team homepage is at http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    Atheist God

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 05:04 AM

http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.n...dId=space_rss20

The 'string of pearls' that have been observed in Saturns Atmosphere is an indication to scientists, that the planet atmosphere is more active then anticipated. Essentially they are gaps in the cloud formations in the northern hemisphere caused by active regularly spaced downdrafts.

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A site I write my own articles. sw-gm check em out.

#9    SilverCougar

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 05:48 AM

Quote


http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.n...dId=space_rss20

The 'string of pearls' that have been observed in Saturns Atmosphere is an indication to scientists, that the planet atmosphere is more active then anticipated. Essentially they are gaps in the cloud formations in the northern hemisphere caused by active regularly spaced downdrafts.


dot dot dot

I...  Can't comment ....  just no.. so so very wrong.

Doctor_Strangelove: If only I lived in a world with no risk of piss tests. Then I could just sit here and
watch videos on angelfish and become one with nature.

#10    RollingThunder06

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 07:29 AM

Space pictures never cease to amaze me. They are always so beautiful. It has taken Saturn long enough to show that it isn't always the peaceful, calm place scientist believed it to be.

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#11    __Kratos__

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:41 AM

Quote


I...  Can't comment ....  just no.. so so very wrong.


laugh.gif I guess God has a special flare for Saturn.


I wonder why the guy said Saturn isn't boring anymore. Was it boring before? blink.gif I didn't think so... dontgetit.gif



Edited by __Kratos__, 13 October 2006 - 11:43 AM.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." ~Philip K. Dick

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#12    jesspy

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:38 PM

maybe you should change the title lol

saturn is a cool planet it was boring

Mind tricks don't work on me, only money.

#13    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:09 PM

NASA Sees into the Eye of a Monster Storm on Saturn

November 9, 2006
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has seen something never before seen on another planet -- a hurricane-like storm at Saturn's south pole with a well-developed eye, ringed by towering clouds.

The "hurricane" spans a dark area inside a thick, brighter ring of clouds. It is approximately 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) across, or two thirds the diameter of Earth.

IPB Image
This 14-frame movie shows a swirling cloud
mass centered on the south pole, around which
winds blow at 550 kilometers (350 miles) per
hour.
+ View Movie


"It looks like a hurricane, but it doesn't behave like a hurricane," said Dr. Andrew Ingersoll, a member of Cassini's imaging team at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "Whatever it is, we're going to focus on the eye of this storm and find out why it's there."

A movie taken by Cassini's camera over a three-hour period reveals winds around Saturn's south pole blowing clockwise at 550 kilometers (350 miles) per hour. The camera also saw the shadow cast by a ring of towering clouds surrounding the pole, and two spiral arms of clouds extending from the central ring. These ring clouds, 30 to 75 kilometers (20 to 45 miles) above those in the center of the storm, are two to five times taller than the clouds of thunderstorms and hurricanes on Earth.

Eye-wall clouds are a distinguishing feature of hurricanes on Earth. They form where moist air flows inward across the ocean's surface, rising vertically and releasing a heavy rain around an interior circle of descending air that is the eye of the storm itself. Though it is uncertain whether such moist convection is driving Saturn's storm, the dark "eye" at the pole, the eye-wall clouds and the spiral arms together indicate a hurricane-like system.

IPB Image
These images of Saturn's south pole, taken
by two different instruments, show the
hurricane-like storm swirling there and
features in the clouds at various depths
surrounding the pole.


Distinctive eye-wall clouds had not been seen on any planet other than Earth. Even Jupiter's Great Red Spot, much larger than Saturn's polar storm, has no eye or eye-wall and is relatively calm at the center.

This giant Saturnian storm is apparently different fromhurricanes on Earth because it is locked to the pole and does not drift around. Also, since Saturn is a gaseous planet, the storm forms without an ocean at its base.

In the Cassini imagery, the eye looks dark at infrared wavelengths where methane gas absorbs the light and only the highest clouds are visible.

"The clear skies over the eye appear to extend down to a level about twice as deep as the usual cloud level observed on Saturn," said Dr. Kevin H. Baines of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This gives us the deepest view yet into Saturn over a wide range of wavelengths, and reveals a mysterious set of dark clouds at the bottom of the eye."

Infrared images taken by the Keck I telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, had previously shown Saturn's south pole to be warm. Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer has confirmed this with higher-resolution temperature maps of the area. The spectrometer observed a temperature increase of about 2 Kelvin (4 degrees Fahrenheit) at the pole. The instrument measured high temperatures in the upper troposphere and stratosphere, regions higher in the atmosphere than the clouds seen by the Cassini imaging instruments.

IPB Image
This view shows temperature data from the
composite infrared spectrometer overlaid
onto an image from the imaging science
subsystem wide-angle camera.


"The winds decrease with height, and the atmosphere is sinking, compressing and heating over the South Pole," said Dr. Richard Achterberg, a member of Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer team at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Observations taken over the next few years, as the south pole season changes from summer to fall, will help scientists understand the role seasons play in driving the dramatic meteorology at the south pole of Saturn.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA¿s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at Goddard.

For a movie, high-resolution images, infrared images and Saturn temperature maps, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, and http://ciclops.org.

Contacts:
Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown (202) 358-1237/1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Preston Dyches (720) 974-5859
Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini - Press Release

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#14    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:17 PM

IPB Image\

Saturn's Surprisingly Stormy South
November 9, 2006

These images of Saturn's south pole, taken by two different instruments on Cassini, show the hurricane-like storm swirling there and features in the clouds at various depths surrounding the pole. Different wavelengths reveal the height of the clouds, which span tens of kilometers in altitude.

The four monochrome images displayed here were acquired by the imaging science subsystem; the blue and red images in the bottom row were taken by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. The images are arranged in order of increasing wavelength in nanometers as follows: (top row) 460 nm, 752 nm, 728 nm; (bottom row) 890 nm, 2,800 nm, 5,000 nm.

At the center of the cauldron of storms spinning around the south pole is the south pole itself, which literally appears to be the eye of this vast polar storm system. As in a hurricane on Earth, the south polar "eye" is relatively clear of clouds and is surrounded by a wall of towering clouds that cast shadows into the center. However, while morphologically similar, it is not clear if this vortex operates in the same fashion as a terrestrial hurricane. In most of the images, the center of the polar storm is quite dark, indicating an unusually cloud-free atmosphere in the upper skies, which are otherwise typically inhabited by bright ammonia clouds. This polar hole in the ammonia cloud layer represents the eye of the hurricane-like storm. Unusually dark clouds likely exist at the bottom of this deep hole, enhancing the murkiness there.

The first image in this montage (at upper left) shows a muted eye, due to the enhanced scattering of light from the atmosphere itself at this blue wavelength (460 nanometers), just as in the blue skies of Earth. In the last image at bottom right, the eye appears relatively bright. This image is taken at a wavelength of 5,000 nanometers, where the dominant source of light is the thermal glow of the planet itself. The bright thermal glow seen in this polar hole again shows that the eye is relatively cloud-free to unusual depths.

In the imaging science subsystem images, the eye looks dark at wavelengths where methane gas absorbs the light (728 nanometers and 890 nanometers, at upper right and lower left) and only the highest clouds are visible, confirming that the clouds within the eye are deeper than their surroundings. This effect is also seen in visual and infrared mapping spectrometer images that show gas absorption.

In the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer image taken at 2,800 nanometers, four times the wavelength of light visible to the human eye, this cloud clearing appears dark, which is consistent with the idea that the atmosphere above any distinct clouds is unusually deep there. The eye is some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) across, and is surrounded by a distinct ring of clouds some 300 kilometers (185 miles) across. The images also indicate the prevalence of smaller but vertically well-developed storms across the entire south polar region, indicating the extent to which convection characterizes the area.

Literally hundreds of storm clouds encircle the pole, appearing as dark spots in the infrared spectrometer thermal image (red image) and as both bright and dark spots in images taken in sunlight (blue image). Each of these spots represents a storm. These pictures reveal that Saturn's south pole is a cauldron of storm activity, unlike anything ever seen on any planet.

The individual storms surrounding the pole are seen as dark "leopard spots" in the thermal image (red) taken at a wavelength of 5,000 nanometers, some seven times the wavelength of light visible to the human eye. Here, these spots are blocking the thermal light, or heat, from the interior of Saturn. The storm clouds are thus seen in silhouette against Saturn's thermal glow. The effectiveness of these clouds in blocking Saturn's interior thermal glow indicates that the storm clouds are unusually thick, extending deep down into Saturn's atmosphere, and are comprised of relatively large cloud particles, likely condensates formed in upwelling air currents.

The large number of dark, circular leopard spots at the south pole seen at 5,000 nanometer wavelength, and their correlation with the features seen in sunlight at 2,800 nanometer wavelength, indicates that convective activity extending over dozens of kilometers in altitude is surprisingly rampant in the south polar region. Why such unusual dynamics exist there is perhaps linked to Saturn's southern summer, which is the season Saturn is in now. Observations taken over the next few years, as the south pole season changes from summer to fall, will help scientists understand the role seasons play in driving the dramatic meteorology at the south pole of Saturn. The images in this montage were acquired on Oct. 11, 2006, when Cassini was approximately 340,000 kilometers (210,000 miles) from Saturn. The original imaging science subsystem images have a scale of about 17 kilometers (11 miles) per pixel. The visual and infrared spectrometer images have a scale of about 174 kilometers (108 miles) per pixel. The images have been resized to approximately the same scale for presentation here.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona where this image was produced.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team homepage is at http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu . .

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/University of Arizona

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 09 November 2006 - 09:39 PM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#15    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:38 PM

IPB Image\

The Hole at the Pole
November 9, 2006

The Cassini data presented in this view appear to confirm a region of warm atmospheric descent into the eye of a hurricane-like storm locked to Saturn's south pole. The view shows temperature data from the Cassini spacecraft composite infrared spectrometer overlaid onto an image from the imaging science subsystem wide-angle camera.

The composite infrared spectrometer data refer to a depth in Saturn's upper stratosphere where the pressure is 0.5 millibars (324 kilometers above the 1-bar level), a region higher than that imaged by the imaging camera and visual and infrared spectrometer during the same observation period. The composite infrared spectrometer data show a very small hot spot over the pole, similar in size to the "eye" of the storm seen in the imaging science subsystem images. See also Looking Saturn in the Eye and Saturn's Surprisingly Stormy South for related images.

The color scale at the bottom indicates the temperature in Kelvin corresponding to the colors of the temperature map. Numbers on the grid correspond to lines of latitude and longitude on the planet.

Infrared images taken through the Keck I telescope by ground-based observers had previously shown the south polar spot to be warm. Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer has confirmed this with higher resolution temperature maps of the area (like the map displayed here) and sees a temperature increase of about 2 Kelvin (4 degrees Fahrenheit) at the pole.

The temperatures are in the stratosphere and higher up than the clouds seen by the Cassini imaging and visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instruments, but they suggest that the atmosphere sinks over the south pole. Because the pressure increases with depth, the descending atmosphere compresses and heats up. The warmer temperatures over the south pole also indicate that the vortex winds are decaying with height in the stratosphere. The descent implied by the temperatures nicely supports the lower cloud altitudes observed by the imaging camera and visual and infrared spectrometer instruments at the pole.

The image and atmospheric data were acquired on Oct. 11, 2006, when Cassini was approximately 340,000 kilometers (210,000 miles) from Saturn. The wide-angle camera image was taken using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The image has been contrast enhanced using digital image processing techniques. The unprocessed image shows an oblique view toward the pole, and was reprojected to show the planet from a perspective directly over the south pole. Scale in the original image was about 17 kilometers (11 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.  

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org . The composite infrared spectrometer team homepage is at http://cirs.gsfc.nasa.gov/  .

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/GSFC

Source: NASA/JPL - Cassini

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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