Polar aurora lights on planet Saturn


This video says about itself:

Dance of Saturn’s Auroras

11 Feb 2014

Ultraviolet and infrared images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope show active and quiet auroras at Saturn‘s north and south poles.

Saturn’s auroras glow when energetic electrons dive into the planet’s atmosphere and collide with hydrogen molecules. Sometimes a blast of fast solar wind, composed of mostly electrons and protons, creates an active aurora at Saturn, as occurred on April 5 and May 20, 2013.

The first set of images, as seen in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum by Hubble, shows an active aurora dancing around Saturn’s north pole on April 5. The movie then shows a relatively quiet time between April 19 to 22 and between May 18 and 19. The aurora flares up again in Hubble images from May 20. This version, shown in false-color, has been processed to show the auroras more clearly.

A second set of ultraviolet images shows a closer view of an active north polar aurora in white. This set comes from Cassini ultraviolet imaging spectrograph observations on May 20 and 21.

The last set of images, in the infrared, shows a quiet southern aurora (in green) in observations from Cassini‘s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on May 17. Saturn’s inner heat glows in red, with dark areas showing where high clouds block the heat.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Colorado/Central Arizona College and NASA/ESA/University of Leicester and NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Lancaster University.

From Sci-News.com:

Hubble, Cassini See Auroras on Saturn

Feb 15, 2014

Detailed images of auroras at Saturn’s north and south poles have been captured by astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Cassini spacecraft.

Saturn’s auroras glow when energetic electrons dive into the planet’s atmosphere and collide with hydrogen molecules.

Sometimes a blast of fast solar wind, composed of mostly electrons and protons, creates an active aurora at the sixth planet from the Sun.

“The auroras at Saturn are some of the planet’s most glamorous features – and there was no escaping NASA’s paparazzi-like attention,” said Dr Marcia Burton from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Saturn’s auroras can be fickle – you may see fireworks, you may see nothing,” said team leader Dr Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK.

Dr Nichols and his colleagues used Hubble telescope to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths and NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to capture images of the north and south in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths.

While the curtain-like auroras we see at Earth are green at the bottom and red at the top, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has shown astronomers similar auroras at Saturn that are red at the bottom and purple at the top. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI

The Hubble and Cassini images help shed light on an unsolved mystery about the atmospheres of giant outer planets.

“Scientists have wondered why the high atmospheres of Saturn and other gas giants are heated far beyond what might normally be expected given their distance from the Sun,” said Dr Sarah Badman from Lancaster University.

“We know there must be other energy interactions going on to cause this heating, but we can’t yet say for sure what they are.”

“From the Earth, we can only see part of the picture, but by looking at these amazing new movies from the vantage points of both Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope, we can see exactly where the aurora is heating Saturn’s atmosphere and for how long.”

“Being able to track the aurora all around Saturn’s poles is vital if we are to discover how its atmosphere is heated.”

The new images also help astronomers figure out the colors of Saturn’s auroras.

While the curtain-like auroras we see at Earth are green at the bottom and red at the top, Cassini’s imaging cameras have shown us similar curtain-like auroras at Saturn that are red at the bottom and purple at the top

The color difference occurs because auroras on our planet are dominated by excited nitrogen and oxygen molecules, and Saturn’s auroras are dominated by excited hydrogen molecules.

“While we expected to see some red in Saturn’s aurora because hydrogen emits some red light when it gets excited, we also knew there could be color variations depending on the energies of the charged particles bombarding the atmosphere and the density of the atmosphere. We were thrilled to learn about this colorful display that no one had seen before,” explained team member Dr Ulyana Dyudina from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

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Planet earth photographed by spacecraft


Planet earth photographed from space. Two Views of Home: These images show views of Earth and the moon from NASA's Cassini (left) and MESSENGER spacecraft (right) from July 19, 2013. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute and NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

From ScienceDaily:

NASA Releases Images of Earth by Two Interplanetary Spacecraft

July 22, 2013 — Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19 show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.

In the Cassini images Earth and the moon appear as mere dots — Earth a pale blue and the moon a stark white, visible between Saturn’s rings. It was the first time Cassini’s highest-resolution camera captured Earth and its moon as two distinct objects.

It also marked the first time people on Earth had advance notice their planet’s portrait was being taken from interplanetary distances. NASA invited the public to celebrate by finding Saturn in their part of the sky, waving at the ringed planet and sharing pictures over the Internet. More than 20,000 people around the world participated.

“We can’t see individual continents or people in this portrait of Earth, but this pale blue dot is a succinct summary of who we were on July 19,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Cassini’s picture reminds us how tiny our home planet is in the vastness of space, and also testifies to the ingenuity of the citizens of this tiny planet to send a robotic spacecraft so far away from home to study Saturn and take a look-back photo of Earth.”

Pictures of Earth from the outer solar system are rare because from that distance, Earth appears very close to our sun. A camera’s sensitive detectors can be damaged by looking directly at the sun, just as a human being can damage his or her retina by doing the same. Cassini was able to take this image because the sun had temporarily moved behind Saturn from the spacecraft’s point of view and most of the light was blocked.

A wide-angle image of Earth will become part of a multi-image picture, or mosaic, of Saturn’s rings, which scientists are assembling. This image is not expected to be available for several weeks because of the time-consuming challenges involved in blending images taken in changing geometry and at vastly different light levels, with faint and extraordinarily bright targets side by side.

“It thrills me to no end that people all over the world took a break from their normal activities to go outside and celebrate the interplanetary salute between robot and maker that these images represent,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. “The whole event underscores for me our ‘coming of age’ as planetary explorers.”

In the MESSENGER image, Earth and the moon are less than a pixel, but appear very large because they are overexposed. Long exposures are required to capture as much light as possible from potentially dim objects. Consequently, bright objects in the field of view become saturated and appear artificially large.

“That images of our planet have been acquired on a single day from two distant solar system outposts reminds us of this nation’s stunning technical accomplishments in planetary exploration,” said MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. “And because Mercury and Saturn are such different outcomes of planetary formation and evolution, these two images also highlight what is special about Earth. There’s no place like home.”

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., designed and built MESSENGER, a spacecraft developed under NASA’s Discovery Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL and APL manage their respective missions for NASA. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

More information about the picture and the Wave at Saturn campaign is available at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/waveatsaturn.

To view the MESSENGER images, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/16Vnt5G.

Fundamentalists abuse Hurricane Sandy for gay-bashing


This video from the USA is called Hurricane Sandy Superstorm Update 11pm Advisory.

Hurricane Sandy, the largest tropical system recorded in the Atlantic, strengthened as it began making the transition to a superstorm that may push a wall of water ashore in the Northeast and lash the East with wind, rain and snow: here.

You think Sandy’s bad? Saturn had a storm that was bigger than Earth: here.

Hurricane Sandy Eyes DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia And New York (PHOTOS, LIVE UPDATES): here.

From ThinkProgress in the USA:

Anti-Gay Preacher Blames Hurricane Sandy On Homosexuality And Marriage Equality

By Zack Ford on Oct 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

John McTernan

A Christian religious leader has already claimed that Hurricane Sandy is further proof that “God is systematically destroying America” as political judgment for the “homosexual agenda.” John McTernan previously made similar allusions about Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012), which he reiterated in his urgent call to prayer posted Sunday evening (via Gay Star News):

Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina. Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!

McTernan believes that it is noteworthy that Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years after the “Perfect Storm,” because 3 is a “significant number with God”:

Twenty-one years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection.

It appears that God gave America 21 years to repent of interfering with His prophetic plan for Israel; however, it has gotten worse under all the presidents and especially Obama. Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!

Religious spokespeople have frequently tried to draw bizarre connections between natural disasters and the LGBT community. Last year, the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson similarly claimed that Hurricane Isaac was punishment for the Southern Decadence LGBT festival. Rick Joyner had the same to say about Hurricane Katrina, claiming that “[God]‘s not gonna put up with perversion anymore.” Pat Robertson has long believed that acceptance of homosexuality could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs, and “possibly a meteor.”

It’s likely that McTernan will not be the only religious figure to draw such allusions from this devastating storm.

Rabbi blames Hurricane Sandy on New York’s equal marriage law: here.

Hurricane Sandy is God’s October Surprise, Says Conservative Christian Author of Apocalyptic Novels: here.

Mitt Romney In GOP Debate: Shut Down Federal Disaster Agency, Send Responsibility To The States: here.

Axe FEMA, Romney Says – as Hurricane Sandy Looms: here.

Saturn’s strange radio waves


This video is called 5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation.

From the Daily Galaxy:

May 12, 2012

Weekend Feature: “Saturn‘s Strange Voice” — Radio Waves Vary at Its North and South Hemispheres

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show that the variation in radio waves controlled by the planet’s rotation is different in the northern and southern hemispheres. Moreover, the northern and southern rotational variations also appear to change with the Saturnian seasons, and the hemispheres have actually swapped rates.

Click to hear Saturn‘s Eerie Voice.

“The rain of electrons into the atmosphere that produces the auroras also produces the radio emissions and affects the magnetic field, so scientists think that all these variations we see are related to the sun’s changing influence on the planet,” said Stanley Cowley, co-investigator on Cassini‘s magnetometer instrument.

“These data just go to show how weird Saturn is,” said Don Gurnett, Cassini’s radio and plasma wave science instrument team leader, and professor of physics at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “We thought we understood these radio wave patterns at gas giants, since Jupiter was so straightforward. Without Cassini’s long stay, scientists wouldn’t have understood that the radio emissions from Saturn are so different.”

Saturn emits radio waves known as Saturn Kilometric Radiation, or SKR for short that sound like bursts of a spinning air raid siren, since the radio waves vary with each rotation of the planet. This kind of radio wave pattern had been previously used at Jupiter to measure the planet’s rotation rate, but at Saturn, as is the case with teenagers, the situation turned out to be much more complicated.

When NASA’s Voyager spacecraft visited Saturn in the early 1980s, the radiation emissions indicated the length of Saturn’s day was about 10.66 hours. But as its clocking continued by a flyby of the joint ESA-NASA Ulysses spacecraft and Cassini, the radio burst varied by seconds to minutes. A paper in Geophysical Research Letters in 2009 analyzing Cassini data showed that the Saturn Kilometric Radiation was not even a solo, but a duet, with two singers out of sync. Radio waves emanating from near the north pole had a period of around 10.6 hours; radio waves near the south pole had a period of around 10.8 hours.

A new paper led by Gurnett shows that, in Cassini data, the southern and northern SKR periods crossed over around March 2010, about seven months after equinox, when the sun shines directly over a planet’s equator.

The southern SKR period decreased from about 10.8 hours on Jan. 1, 2008 and crossed with the northern SKR period around March 1, 2010, at around 10.67 hours. The northern period increased from about 10.58 hours to that convergence point.

Seeing this kind of crossover led the Cassini scientists to go back into data from previous Saturnian visits. With a new eye, they saw that NASA’s Voyager data taken in 1980, about a year after Saturn’s 1979 equinox, showed different warbles from Saturn’s northern and southern poles. They also saw a similar kind of effect in the Ulysses radio data between 1993 and 2000. The northern and southern periods detected by Ulysses converged and crossed over around August 1996, about nine months after the previous Saturnian equinox.

Cassini scientists don’t think the differences in the radio wave periods had to do with hemispheres actually rotating at different rates, but more likely came from variations in high-altitude winds in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Two other papers involving Cassini investigators were published in December, with results complementary to the radio and plasma wave science instrument – one by Jon Nichols, University of Leicester, and the other led by David Andrews, also of University of Leicester.

In the Nichols paper, data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope showed the northern and southern auroras on Saturn wobbled back and forth in latitude in a pattern matching the radio wave variations, from January to March 2009, just before equinox. The radio signal and aurora data are complementary because they are both related to the behavior of the magnetic bubble around Saturn, known as the magnetosphere.

The paper by Andrews, a Cassini magnetometer team associate, showed that from mid-2004 to mid-2009, Saturn’s magnetic field over the two poles wobbled at the same separate periods as the radio waves and the aurora.

As the sun continues to climb towards the north pole of Saturn, Gurnett’s group has continued to see the crossover trend in radio signals through Jan.1, 2011. The period of the southern radio signals continued to decrease to about 10.54 hours, while the period of the northern radio signals increased to 10.71 hours.

“These papers are important in helping to explain the complicated dance between the sun and Saturn’s magnetic bubble, something normally invisible to the human eye and imperceptible to the human ear,” said Marcia Burton, a Cassini fields and particles scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

‘Magic island’ appears out of nowhere on Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon, then quickly disappears: here.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a €1.1 billion unmanned mission to the ice moons of the planet Jupiter. A robotic spacecraft, named the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE), is set to launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2030. It will study Europa, Callisto and Ganymede, three of the four “Galilean satellites,” named after the Galileo Galilei, who first observed them in 1610: here.

Voyager spacecraft approaching interstellar space—35 years after launch: here.

NGC 4178 enjoyed the single life. Even though the flat, disc-shaped galaxy was getting on a bit, it had a svelte spiral figure to be proud of. Its central black hole was perfect: not too small, not too large. It had never been involved in a major merger with another galaxy, and wanted to keep it that way. None of the unsightly bulges and warps associated with too much socialising for NGC 4178: here.

Voyager 1 is going, going, but not quite gone from the Solar System: here.

In a historic scientific and technical accomplishment, NASA astronomers operating the Voyager 1 spacecraft confirmed on September 12 [2013] that after 36 years and 19 billion kilometers, humanity’s most distant object has entered interstellar space. Moreover, the findings of Voyager 1’s research team show that the probe left the solar system more than a year before: here.

Cassini’s Saturn research continues


This video from the USA says about itself:

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco shows images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, focusing on its largest moon, Titan, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice.

From New Scientist today:

The Cassini probe will become the first spacecraft to get a detailed look at summer in Saturn‘s northern hemisphere, now that NASA has extended its mission until 2017.

Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004, shortly after the height of winter in the northern hemisphere. But since the Ringed Planet‘s year lasts 29 Earth years, it has never been able to witness the hemisphere’s more temperate months.

Now its current mission, which was set to end in September 2010, will be extended for a further seven years, taking it a few months past the northern summer solstice. The announcement comes after the White House revealed its proposed 2011 budget for the agency, which provides $60 million per year for Cassini’s extended mission.

Cassini fits four Saturnian satellites in one frame: here.

Cassini detection adds to Enceladus liquid water story: here.

Evidence Mounts for Liquid Water on Enceladus: here.

Saturn moon Enceladus is snowy, forms perfect skiing powder, scientists report: here.

See photos from the Cassini probe’s summer trip: here.

400 years of Saturn’s rings: here.

Saturn moon loses its ring, gains a mystery: here.

Saturn’s rings may owe their existence to the chaotic death of an ancient moon: here.

Saturn’s been diagnosed with an irregular auroral heartbeat: here.

Glowing auroras ring Saturn: New movie documents lights over nearly two days on the planet: here.

Plumes from Saturn’s Enceladus may be carbonated: here.

Saturn’s Largest Moon Has Ingredients for Life? Here.

Titan’s Atmosphere Spawned by Impacts? Here.

Pictures: New Views of Saturn’s “Sponge” Moon Hyperion: here.

Saturn’s rings may be pulverized moon pieces: here.

A humbling view of the inner solar system from Saturn via Cassini: here.

Saturn’s rings explained: A shattered moon could have sprayed ice particles around the planet: here.

Water from a Saturnian Moon Rains Down on the Ringed Planet: here.

Liquid on Saturn moon discovered


This video is called Cassini – Titan; a simulation based on real radar images.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation today:

Scientists discover liquid on Saturn moon

US space scientists say liquid has been discovered on the surface of Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn.

Instruments on the Cassini space probe established the presence of liquefied ethane gas and a large lake on Titan.

Earth is the only other body in the solar system to have fluid on its surface.

Saturn’s smog-ridden moon Titan bears a striking resemblance to Earth despite its alien environment, a study has revealed: here.

Titan Tech: Lightweight Drone Could Explore Saturn Moon: here.

Long-lived Titan lakes are boon to life: here.

Jupiter and Saturn-like planets discovered


This video is called Evaporating Exoplanet hd209458b.

From National Geographic:

Smaller “Siblings” of Jupiter, Saturn Discovered

Anne Casselman
for National Geographic News

February 14, 2008

Two newfound extrasolar planets orbiting a star about 5,000 light years away resemble smaller versions of our own Jupiter and Saturn, an international team of astronomers reports.

These planetary “siblings” are about 80 percent as big as our gas giants and orbit a star that’s about half the size of the sun.

What’s more, the smaller planet lies about twice as far from its star as the larger one, just as Saturn is twice as far from the sun as Jupiter.

“The interesting thing about this system is that it looks very similar to our own solar system, but scaled down,” said team leader Scott Gaudi, an astronomer at Ohio State University. (Explore an interactive solar system.)

Gaudi and colleagues from 11 ground-based observatories describe the work in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Science.

The discovery is the first time that an alien planetary system with both Saturn and Jupiter analogues has been spotted, said Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study.

It’s also only the third time that a Jupiter-mass planet has been found using a technique called gravitational microlensing.

This method has been used to study dark matter and has only recently been applied to the search for so-called exoplanets.

“Until now microlensing has been kind of like a poor cousin in exoplanet sighting,” Seager said.

“So I think it’s a big discovery, because the true power of this technique is just becoming clear.”

First images taken of extrasolar planets: here.

Saturn’s moon Tethys: here.

Could flowers bloom on [Jupiter's] icy moon Europa? Here.

Facts About Jupiter and Four of Its Moons: here.

Dwarf planet Xena renamed Eris


Greek goddess Eris

From RedOrbit:

LOS ANGELES – A distant, icy rock whose discovery shook up the solar system and led to Pluto’s planetary demise has been given a name: Eris.

The christening of Eris, named after the Greek goddess of chaos and strife, was announced by the International Astronomical Union on Wednesday.

Kuiper belt objects

Weeks earlier, the professional astronomers’ group stripped Pluto of its planethood under new controversial guidelines.

Since its discovery last year, Eris, which had been known as 2003 UB313, ignited a debate about what constitutes a planet.

Astronomers were split over how to classify the object because there was no universal definition.

Some argued it should be welcomed as the 10th planet since it was larger than Pluto, but others felt Pluto was not a full-fledged planet.

After much bickering, astronomers last month voted to shrink the solar system to eight planets, downgrading Pluto to a “dwarf planet,” a category that also includes Eris and the asteroid Ceres.

Eris’ discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, said the name was an obvious choice, calling it “too perfect to resist.”

In mythology, Eris caused a quarrel among goddesses that sparked the Trojan War.

In real life, Eris forced scientists to define a planet that eventually led to Pluto getting the boot.

Soon after Pluto’s dismissal from the planet club, hundreds of scientists circulated a petition protesting the decision.

Eris’ moon also received a formal name: Dysnomia, the daughter of Eris known as the spirit of lawlessness.

Eris, which measures about 70 miles wider than Pluto, is the farthest known object in the solar system at 9 billion miles away from sun.

It is also the third brightest object located in the Kuiper belt, a disc of icy debris beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Eris had been without a formal name while astronomers grappled over its status.

Xena and Gabrielle

Brown nicknamed it “Xena” after the fictional warrior princess pending an official designation.

He admits the new name will take some getting used to.

“It’s a little sad to see Xena go away,” he said.

Eris-Xena’s moon, ‘Gabrielle’, discovered: here.

Dwarf ‘sub-planet’ named after Polynesian god: here.

Andromeda galaxy three times bigger than thought: here.

New comet discovered: here.

Exoplanet Gliese 581 c discovered: here.

Scientists investigating the growing number of extra-solar planets, or exoplanets, have concluded that the planet Gliese 581 d is the first to be confirmed to have a possibility of sustaining Earth-like life. A recent study by a team of researchers led by Robin Wordsworth shows that Gliese 581 d is the first rocky planet discovered that potentially has atmospheric conditions allowing for liquid water on its surface: here.

NASA Craft Yields New Discoveries About Jupiter: here.

Saturn’s moon Iapetus: here.

Iapetus has a dirty face, and it’s getting dirtier every day. That’s the conclusion of astronomers studying Saturn’s oddest moon, a sort of yin-yang symbol in space that’s almost pitch black on one side and icy bright on the other: here.

ScienceDaily (July 29, 2012) — “We see landslides everywhere in the solar system,” says Kelsi Singer, graduate student in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, “but Saturn’s icy moon Iapetus has more giant landslides than any body other than Mars”: here.

Neptune ‘dead zones’ hold more rocks than asteroid belt: here.

Hubble’s Neptune anniversary pictures: here.

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