Wiki Actu en

July 8, 2011

Cassini spacecraft captures large storm on Saturn

Cassini spacecraft captures large storm on Saturn

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, July 8, 2011

Space
Related articles

ScoCen.jpg
Collaborate!
  • Pillars of Wikinews writing
  • Writing an article

Saturn showing the Great White Spot.
Image: spacetelescope.org.

On Wednesday NASA released details of a giant convective storm on Saturn gathered from the international Cassini spacecraft orbiting the planet. The storm, known as a “Great White Spot“, is around 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) wide and visible from Earth.

The White Spot storms have been observed since 1876 and occur approximately every 30 years; only five previous storms have been seen in the last 137 years. The first signs were detected on December 5, 2010 by instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft when it recorded lightening outbursts in a small bright area on Saturn’s northern half. The area was tracked by the spacecraft and by astronomers on the ground through telescopes. It was later identified as a brewing storm during the start of Saturn spring. Its size and intensity grew until its tail wrapped around the planet. It now covers 1.5 billion square miles.

Cassini has been monitoring storms on Saturn since the craft arrived there in 2004. This is the most intense yet seen and was observed in unprecedented detail, according to the journal Nature in two papers published Thursday. The storm is 500 times larger than the biggest storm on Saturn monitored by Cassini. The spacecraft’s instruments showed the rate of the nearly continuous lightning flashes was up to ten times more frequent than during past storms it has monitored. This electrical activity is 10,000 times stronger than lightning bursts measured on Earth.

Saturn’s huge storm is bright due to its gaseous content, scientists say.

A key question is the source of the energy powering Great White Spots. Originally researchers thought the storms’ power might come from the sun. However, researcher Agustin Sánchez-Lavega told Space.com the new data showed that to make sense of the cloud patterns, the winds must “extend deep into the ‘weather layer’ … where the main clouds reside.” Since sunlight does not reach this depth, this “points to the action of an internal heat source as the power for the winds.”



Related news

Sources

External links

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

June 23, 2011

Saturn moon Enceladus may have salty ocean

Saturn moon Enceladus may have salty ocean

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Space
Related stories

Scorpius-Centaurus Associazion
More information on Space:
  • Outer space
  • Spaceflight
  • Space and survival
  • Space exploration
  • Space portal

This mosaic was created from two high-resolution images that were captured by the narrow-angle camera when NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew past Enceladus and through the jets on Nov. 21, 2009.
Image: NASA/JPL/SSI.

NASA’s Cassini–Huygens spacecraft has discovered evidence for a large-scale saltwater reservoir beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The data came from the spacecraft’s direct analysis of salt-rich ice grains close to the jets ejected from the moon. The study has been published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and usually low in salt far away from the moon. Closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt-water. When water freezes, the salt is squeezed out, leaving pure water ice behind.

Cassini’s ultraviolet imaging spectrograph also recently obtained complementary results that support the presence of a subsurface ocean. A team of Cassini researchers led by Candice Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, measured gas shooting out of distinct jets originating in the moon’s south polar region at five to eight times the speed of sound, several times faster than previously measured. These observations of distinct jets, from a 2010 flyby, are consistent with results showing a difference in composition of ice grains close to the moon’s surface and those that made it out to the E ring, the outermost ring that gets its material primarily from Enceladean jets. If the plumes emanated from ice, they should have very little salt in them.

“There currently is no plausible way to produce a steady outflow of salt-rich grains from solid ice across all the tiger stripes other than salt water under Enceladus’s icy surface,” said Frank Postberg, a Cassini team scientist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

The data suggests a layer of water between the moon’s rocky core and its icy mantle, possibly as deep as about 50 miles (80 kilometers) beneath the surface. As this water washes against the rocks, it dissolves salt compounds and rises through fractures in the overlying ice to form reserves nearer the surface. If the outermost layer cracks open, the decrease in pressure from these reserves to space causes a plume to shoot out. Roughly 400 pounds (200 kilograms) of water vapor is lost every second in the plumes, with smaller amounts being lost as ice grains. The team calculates the water reserves must have large evaporating surfaces, or they would freeze easily and stop the plumes.

“We imagine that between the ice and the ice core there is an ocean of depth and this is somehow connected to the surface reservoir,” added Postberg.

The Cassini mission discovered Enceladus’ water-vapor and ice jets in 2005. In 2009, scientists working with the cosmic dust analyzer examined some sodium salts found in ice grains of Saturn’s E ring but the link to subsurface salt water was not definitive. The new paper analyzes three Enceladus flybys in 2008 and 2009 with the same instrument, focusing on the composition of freshly ejected plume grains. In 2008, Cassini discovered a high “density of volatile gases, water vapor, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as organic materials, some 20 times denser than expected” in geysers erupting from the moon. The icy particles hit the detector target at speeds between 15,000 and 39,000 MPH (23,000 and 63,000 KPH), vaporizing instantly. Electrical fields inside the cosmic dust analyzer separated the various constituents of the impact cloud.

“Enceladus has got warmth, water and organic chemicals, some of the essential building blocks needed for life,” said Dennis Matson in 2008, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“This finding is a crucial new piece of evidence showing that environmental conditions favorable to the emergence of life can be sustained on icy bodies orbiting gas giant planets,” said Nicolas Altobelli, the European Space Agency’s project scientist for Cassini.

“If there is water in such an unexpected place, it leaves possibility for the rest of the universe,” said Postberg.



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

December 19, 2009

NASA flyby of Saturn moon Titan produces first image of liquid on another world

NASA flyby of Saturn moon Titan produces first image of liquid on another world

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Space
Related stories
  • 30 January 2015: Scientists find ancient solar system in Milky Way galaxy
  • 11 January 2015: SpaceX launches fifth resupply rocket to International Space Station
  • 10 January 2015: Researchers say light signal from space suggests merging black holes
  • 8 December 2014: Orion Spacecraft accomplishes first spaceflight test
  • 13 November 2014: Philae space probe lands on comet

Scorpius-Centaurus Associazion
More information on Space:
  • Outer space
  • Spaceflight
  • Space and survival
  • Space exploration
  • Space portal

The historic image shows a telltale bright reflection

NASA have revealed that a flyby of its probe Cassini past Titan, a moon of Saturn, has produced a historic image: the first photograph showing liquid on a world other than our own.

The picture shows a “specular reflection” from an extremely smooth surface, in this case a liquid. Cassini has been trying to spot one since arriving in 2004, and in 2008 used infrared data to prove that there were liquid methane lakes down there. The northern hemisphere has only been visible since August 2009, as before then it was covered by winter weather. Most of Titan’s lakes are in the north.

“This one image communicates so much about Titan — thick atmosphere, surface lakes and an otherworldliness. It’s an unsettling combination of strangeness yet similarity to Earth,” said Bob Pappalardo, a Cassini scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Titan’s atmosphere is, like Earth’s, mainly nitrogen, but temperatures on the icy world are around -180°C. This reduces the prospect of life, although the presence of liquid does increase the likelihood.

The lake seen in the photograph is called Kraken Mare, and at 150,000 square miles (400,000 square kilometers), it isn’t the largest basin on north Titan, but it is bigger than the Earth’s biggest lake, the Caspian Sea.

Ralf Jaumann, another Cassini scientist, spoke of the team’s hopes for the future. “Next, we want to find out more about Titan’s liquid. Do we have some kind of weather there? Do we have changes with seasons? Does it rain? How does the liquid methane run across the surface?”

A team of scientists are due to propose to NASA that the agency drop a boat into a Titan lake, with Kraken Mare and the similarly sized Ligeia Mare being hot candidates. The Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) is projected to be relatively low-cost at US$400 million and would investigate the composition, density and shape of a Titan lake. If launched in 2016 it could arrive in 2023 and spend several years floating on the moon. However, several other projects are also keen to get themselves the next opportunity NASA is offering for the launch of a new project other than its own.



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

October 7, 2009

New ring discovered around Saturn, could explain dark side of its moon

New ring discovered around Saturn, could explain dark side of its moon

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Space
Related stories
  • 30 January 2015: Scientists find ancient solar system in Milky Way galaxy
  • 11 January 2015: SpaceX launches fifth resupply rocket to International Space Station
  • 10 January 2015: Researchers say light signal from space suggests merging black holes
  • 8 December 2014: Orion Spacecraft accomplishes first spaceflight test
  • 13 November 2014: Philae space probe lands on comet

Scorpius-Centaurus Associazion
More information on Space:
  • Outer space
  • Spaceflight
  • Space and survival
  • Space exploration
  • Space portal

An artist’s impression of the newly discovered ring, with Saturn shown at its centre.
Image: NASA.

Astronomers have found a huge new ring around the planet Saturn. The faint dust ring extends up to 7.4 million miles (12 million km) from the planet and could fit over a billion Earths inside it, making it the largest in the Solar System. It could also solve a mystery about one of Saturn’s moons that has puzzled scientists for centuries.

The ring was found with the help of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, with details published today in the journal Nature. It is thought to consist of ice and dust from Saturn’s moon Phoebe, which is kicked up by collisions with comets and then drifts in towards the planet. The ring and moon both orbit in a plane inclined at 27 degrees to the other rings.

“This is one supersized ring,” said Dr Anne Verbiscer of the University of Virginia, one of the authors of the paper. Of Saturn’s other rings, the largest is the E-ring, a mere 150,000 miles (240,000 km) in diameter. Jupiter also has “gossamer rings” of a similar diameter to the E-ring. If the Phoebe ring was visible from Earth, it would appear twice as large in the sky as the full Moon.

However the newly found ring is extremely faint. It is made up of dust particles around 10 microns (thousandths of a millimetre) in size, and according to Verbiscer, “In a cubic km of space, there are all of 10-20 particles.” This explains why it has evaded discovery until now. “If you were standing in the ring itself, you wouldn’t even know it.”

The discovery could explain the two-tone appearance of Iapetus, shown here in an image from the Cassini space probe.
Image: NASA.

The Phoebe ring does not reflect much visible light, but the Spitzer telescope was able to pick up the dust’s faint infra-red glow. The telescope, launched in 2003, orbits the Sun and is roughly 66 million miles (107 million km) from Earth. It is one of NASA’s four Great Observatories.

The discovery could also finally account for the unusual appearance of Iapetus, another of the planet’s moons. When Iapetus was first observed in 1671 by astronomer Giovanni Cassini, its leading side was seen to be much darker than the other. Until now scientists had been unsure why this was. Now it is thought that the moon orbits in the opposite direction to the ring, and as Iapetus moves through the ring, dust builds up on its front surface. Verbiscer likens it to “bugs on a windshield.”

“Astronomers have long suspected that there is a connection between Saturn’s outer moon Phoebe and the dark material on Iapetus,” said Douglas Hamilton, another author of the paper. The material has been found to have a similar composition to Phoebe’s surface. “This new ring provided convincing evidence of that relationship.”

This is the second major discovery for astronomers studying Saturn in the past month. In September, evidence from the Cassini orbiter showed that Saturn’s other rings were far less flat than expected.



Related news

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

September 22, 2009

Images show new dimension to Saturn\’s rings

Images show new dimension to Saturn’s rings

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturn just following equinox, an event which occurs only once every 15 Earth years.
Image: NASA.

NASA’s Cassini orbiter has sent back remarkable images from Saturn, revealing that the planet’s famous rings are far more bumpy than expected.

Astronomers previously thought that the rings were almost completely flat, with changes in height of only a few metres. However analysis of the new images show ridges up to 4 kilometres tall, similar in height to the Rocky Mountains or the Alps.

The images were taken around the planet’s equinox on August 11, when the Sun was directly over Saturn’s equator and caught the rings edge on. A similar equinox occurs today (September 22) on Earth. But whilst equinoxes occur twice a year on Earth, Saturn takes around 29.7 Earth years to orbit the Sun so the events are much rarer.

Cquote1.svg It’s like putting on 3-D glasses and seeing the third dimension for the first time. Cquote2.svg

—Bob Pappalardo

With the light from the Sun reaching Saturn’s rings at such a low angle, scientists were able to measure the shadows cast by bumps on the rings and discover their surprising height. As Cassini project scientist Bob Pappalardo put it: “It’s like putting on 3-D glasses and seeing the third dimension for the first time. This is among the most important events Cassini has shown us.”

Some of the ring features are known to be caused by Saturn’s moons, but others are harder to explain. “To understand what we are seeing will take more time, but the images and data will help develop a more complete understanding of how old the rings might be and how they are evolving,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini deputy project scientist.

Cassini was launched in 1997, and entered orbit around Saturn in 2004. It is part of the Cassini-Huygens joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.



Sources

External links

Commons
Wikimedia Commons has more media related to:
Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

August 11, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 11, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 11, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: August 11, 2008

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, August 11, 2008.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Ohioville creek bones are not human

Some bones that were found in a Ohioville, Pennsylvania creek are no longer said to be human according the authorities. Children found the bones when they were swimming under a train trestle. The bones were found in Little Beaver Creek and are said to be from a dog, deer or another large mammal.

Sources

Etna motorcyclist killed when hit by tree

A tree hit and killed an Etna, Pennsylvania motorcyclist. A truck went rolling down a hill knocking a tree down which landed on the motorcycle. Fifty-nine year old motorcyclist, Alan Brocklebank, was sent to the hospital after the 3 p.m. accident. He died later that morning. The pickup driver was charged by police with drunken driving and homicide.

Sources

Police dog found in Pasadena, California

A K-9 dog, aged 10, was found safely in Pasadena, California. The dog is a Belgian Malinois named Robby, weighing around 70-75 lbs. The dog was saved by an unknown person on Friday morning. The dog is in fine health and was returned to his police unit.

Sources

Somalian police chief dies

In Somalia a high ranked police chief has been killed in an attack that also resulted in the death of four civilians. Grenades were involved in the attack. This attack occurred near the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The attack took place in a police station in the city of Alamada. A witness said that bullets were coming from all directions, and that the attack resulted in the death of his son.

Sources

Cassini probe passes Saturn moon Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft zoomed past Saturn’s moon Enceladus at just 50 kilometres above its surface. The probe attempted to take detailed images of active geysers on the moon, which may offer evidence for the additional existence of liquid water on the moon. If water is confirmed this would be the first time liquid water is found outside of the Earth.

In other space news, NASA’s Phoenix Lander on Mars, which recently confirmed the presence of water ice on the planet, is analyzing a soil sample in its TEGA instrument today. The results from the analysis are expected to establish whether the Martian soil contains perchlorates as earlier reports from the lander have indicated.

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 28, 2008

Cassini discovers organic material on Saturn moon

Cassini discovers organic material on Saturn moon

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, March 28, 2008

Heat radiating from the entire length of 150 kilometer (95 mile)-long fractures is seen in this best-yet heat map of the active south polar region of Saturn’s ice moon Enceladus.
Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft has discovered “organic material” and water spewing from a geyser on one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus. According to NASA, the discovery was made when Cassini flew by the moon on March 12.

“A completely unexpected surprise is that the chemistry of Enceladus, what’s coming out from inside, resembles that of a comet. To have primordial material coming out from inside a Saturn moon raises many questions on the formation of the Saturn system,” said Hunter Waite, principal investigator for the Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer at the Southwest Research Institute located in San Antonio, Texas.

The Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer saw a much higher density of volatile gases, water vapor, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as organic materials, some 20 times denser than expected. This dramatic increase in density was evident as the spacecraft flew over the area of the plumes.

New high-resolution heat maps of the south pole by Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer show that the so-called tiger stripes, giant fissures that are the source of the geysers, are warm along almost their entire lengths, and reveal other warm fissures nearby. These more precise new measurements reveal temperatures of at least minus 93 degrees Celsius (minus 135 Fahrenheit.) That is 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than previously seen and 93 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than other regions of the moon. The warmest regions along the tiger stripes correspond to two of the jet locations seen in Cassini images.

“Enceladus has got warmth, water and organic chemicals, some of the essential building blocks needed for life. We have quite a recipe for life on our hands, but we have yet to find the final ingredient, liquid water, but Enceladus is only whetting our appetites for more,” said Dennis Matson, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

At closest approach, Cassini was only 30 miles from Enceladus. When it flew through the plumes it was 120 miles from the moon’s surface. Cassini’s next flyby of Enceladus is in August.



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 21, 2008

Scientists say that a \’global layer of water\’ exists on Saturn\’s moon Titan

Scientists say that a ‘global layer of water’ exists on Saturn’s moon Titan

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, March 21, 2008

This graphic depicts a cross-section of Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Image: NASA/JPL.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered evidence that points to the existence of an underground ocean of water and ammonia on Saturn’s moon Titan.

“We believe that about 100 kilometers (62 miles) beneath the ice and organic-rich surface is an internal ocean of liquid water mixed with ammonia,” said Bryan Stiles of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

If the findings turn out to be true, this will be the fourth such moon in our solar system found to have some form of water on it. Currently only three other moons, all from Jupiter, have been found to have known water sources. Ganymede, Callisto and Europa are so far the only known moons with a water source.

Cassini pre launch, in 1997
Image: NASA.

Members of the mission’s science team used Cassini’s Synthetic Aperture Radar to collect imaging data during 19 separate passes over Titan between October 2005 and May 2007. The radar can see through Titan’s dense, methane-rich atmospheric haze, detailing never-before-seen surface features and establishing their locations on the moon’s surface.

Using data from the radar’s early observations, the scientists and radar engineers established the locations of 50 unique landmarks on Titan’s surface. They then searched for these same lakes, canyons and mountains in the reams of data returned by Cassini in its later flybys of Titan. They found prominent surface features had shifted from their expected positions by up to 30 kilometers (19 miles). A systematic displacement of surface features would be difficult to explain unless the moon’s icy crust was decoupled from its core by an internal ocean, making it easier for the crust to move.

Cassini scientists will not have long to wait before another go at Titan. On March 25, just prior to its closest approach at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), Cassini will employ its Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer to examine Titan’s upper atmosphere. Immediately after closest approach, the spacecraft’s Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer will capture high-resolution images of Titan’s southeast quadrant.

The study of Titan is a major goal of the Cassini-Huygens mission because it may preserve, in deep-freeze, many of the chemical compounds that preceded life on Earth. Titan is the only moon in the solar system that possesses a dense atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is 1.5 times denser than Earth’s. Titan is the largest of Saturn’s moons, bigger than the planet Mercury.



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 15, 2008

Cassini spacecraft collects sample from geyser on Saturn\’s moon Enceladus

Cassini spacecraft collects sample from geyser on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cassini “tastes” water spray during low altitude flyby.
Image: NASA.

Space probe Cassini performed a close flyby of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus on Wednesday. The fate of the $3.5 billion mission was in the balance as the bus-sized spacecraft swooped to just 50 km (30 mi) above the surface of Enceladus to sample the frozen spray issuing from geysers on the moon’s surface. The “water” spraying from these geysers is in the form of dust-sized, frozen water particles, which are ejected into space by gaseous water vapors that build up pressure deep within icy fissures on Enceladus.

Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer was unavailable due to a glitch in the updated software that was supposed to provide an increased hit count of the geyser dust particles. However, dust samples were collected before and after the closest approach and the mass spectrometer functioned throughout the flyby, providing useful data which is now being analyzed.

Mission controllers will have a chance to capture more geyser dust on October 9, 2008 when they may choose to steer Cassini even closer to the surface of Enceladus.

“Tiger stripes” on Enceladus’ surface.
Image: NASA/JPL/GSFC/Space Science Institute.

Tidal flexing of this moon due to the gravitational proximity of its host planet, Saturn, continually heaves and cracks the icy surface. This suggests that Enceladus may have a squishy, liquid-water ocean beneath an icy crust. Deep, parallel fissures in the ice crust, dubbed the “Tiger Stripes”, measure warmer than uncracked, stationary surfaces nearby. Friction of these massive, moving plates of ice is thought to provide the heat responsible for the pressurized geysers of sublimated water and ice dust. The presence of these geysers amounts to more empirical evidence of a large, liquid water ocean below the surface of Enceladus.

The Cassini-Huygens space probe is an international mission involving the cooperative efforts of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. Launched in 1997, Cassini has orbited Saturn since 2004 but has never before flown so close to a moon. On 14 January 2005, the Huygens lander successfully explored the atmosphere and surface conditions of Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan.

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

December 13, 2007

Saturn\’s rings are much older than previously thought

Saturn’s rings are much older than previously thought

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Artists impression of the particles making up the rings of Saturn.
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado.

Recent scans on the planet Saturn by the space probe Cassini–Huygens have shown that the planet’s rings are much older than previously thought. Recent data says they may be as old as the solar system itself.

The new scans have indicated that the rings are likely three to five billion years old, and will probably be around for billions of years longer. Scientists previously thought the rings to be only about 100 million years old.

“Despite what was thought after the [1970s] Voyager investigations of Saturn – that Saturn’s rings might be very youthful, perhaps only as ancient as the dinosaurs – we have results that show the rings could have lasted as long as the Solar System and maybe will be around for billions of years. Recycling allows the rings to be as old as the solar system although continually changing,” said researcher Professor Larry Esposito.

The determination was made when Cassini’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) analyzed the light from the Sun reflecting off particles in the rings of all different sizes. The data had shown that there was a lot more clumpy material and as much as three times more mass than what was previously found in the Voyager missions.

Scientists assumed that particles from an exploding comet may have caused the rings to form, but the new data says that it is unlikely to be the case, because the particles are all of different ages.

“Although the Voyager observations indicated Saturn’s rings were youthful, Cassini shows even younger ages; and because we see such transient, dynamic phenomena in the rings we are able to reach the paradoxical conclusion – because the rings appear so young, they may actually be as old as the Solar System,” added Esposito.

Cassini is operated jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency.


Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress