The glory of Saturn.
(Materials provided by ESA, NASA, ASI)
I feel like Cassini! Whoosh, flying through the outer solar system!
Speaking of Cassini, that wonderful robotic planetary explorer recently captured this view of a 200 mph hexagonal hurricane on Saturn’s pole, which may be hundreds of years old, each side of which is larger than the entire Earth:
As for why this massive hurricane is hexagonal? That remains somewhat of a mystery, although it is likely due to some strange standing wave fluid dynamics in Saturn’s gaseous atmosphere.
NASA, JPL and the Cassini imaging team debuted a new view of Earth today.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s not Earth, that’s Saturn. Look closer.
Earlier this year, as Cassini happened to pass behind Saturn, eclipsing the sun, its camera was turned toward home. A new silhouette of the ringed planet was captured (you NEED to view it larger here), and just wow, man.
Amid dozens of background stars, four planets and a few million pixels worth of wonder, my favorite part is the hazy outer ring of water vapor, spewed out from the leaky moon Enceladus and its geysers.
Earth appears in the lower right, clear and blue, joined by our moon in this enlarged image:
There’s your new selfie.
Science truly begets beauty.
Q:Your favourite planet is Saturn right? It's mine too but what features of the planet make it stand out above the others?
You mean besides these beautiful rings?
There’s also the amazing auroras, charged particles hitching a ride on Saturn’s intense magnetic field and slamming into the polar atmosphere:
Then there’s the odd hexagonal storm on Saturn’s North Pole, perhaps a result of specially-rotating eddy currents from other Saturnian storms:
Or there’s the fact that Saturn pulls so hard on its moon Enceladus, squeezing and warping it with extreme tides, that the resulting friction heats internal water into volcanic geysers:
Breathtaking montage highlighting Cassini’s best photographs of Saturn and its magnificent rings, dedicated to astrophysicist and popular science writer Margherita Hack, who died on June 29, 2013, and who made the filmmaker, Fabio di Donato, fall in love with stars.
Like it. Put a ring on it.
Looking in the mirror from 898,410,414 miles away…
From out there, we look like stars.
Just a tip, NASA: We’re gonna have to give it a better name than “N00213959.jpg”. Maybe “Pale Blue Sparkle”?
(hi-res at NASA website, a more processed version is sure to come… stay tuned)
Everyone knows if we really dumped a bucket of Earths all over Saturn, they would totally go through the rings, not bounce off, because the rings are made of ice. Duh.
In other news, this is a great reason to watch my latest YouTube video. It’s about just how big the solar system is. No Plutos or grapefruits were harmed in the making of this video.
“In Saturn’s Rings”
A truly wondrous 4K movie trailer for the upcoming IMAX film “In Saturn’s Rings”. This was assembled from 2D photos, primarily taken by Cassini, although you wouldn’t know that by looking at the film. The filmmakers spent years developing techniques to stitch flat photos into immersive experiences, and the result looks pretty great. No CGI. All awesome.
Hitting domes and screens in Spring 2014. Visit their website to donate and for more info.
You guys like Saturn, right? Here’s a whole gallery of Saturn GIFs, from rings to moons, captured by the Cassini spacecraft. They’re part modern art and part science.
Next to the Voyager twins, I think Cassini might be the best satellite NASA ever launched. Certainly takes the best pictures. Tumblr’s own staceythinx has an iPad app called Cassini HD that features even more photos, plus color, plus science.
(GIFs by framesandflames)
If You’re Gonna Spew, Spew Into This …
Saturn’s moon (one of 62 confirmed!) Enceladus spewing water vapor from its south pole. The spout is nearly the width of the moon! Some of its geyser spews can reach all the way to the mother planet, making it the only moon to directly affect its planet’s weather. Just a reminder that water, although essential to life, is certainly not limited to Earth.
More on Enceladus at io9.
Here’s a couple diagrams of Saturn’s ring system and moons via Wikipedia (click here to embiggen the bottom one and learn all about Saturn’s moons):