News Home, where you will find the "Current Top Stories"The Communication Center contains current news briefs from major Universities, NASA, ESA, and the top three Aviation Mfg.Science section contains all the latest knowledge in Medical Research, Archeology, Biology, and other General Science NewsCurrent Earth Science and Environmental discoveries.The E.A.R., Environmental Awareness Report. E.A.R. will keep you advised of Environmental Alerts, Government, University, and public projects. All the current space discoveries from Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra X-Ray, ESO, Gemini, Subaru, ESA, NASA, and many more. The latest in space theories from leading astronomers and scientist from around the world.The Space Weather Forecast Center by Scientific Frontline, Current up-to-date space weather, forecasts, alerts and warnings. Images from SOHO, GOES, and STEREO. Plus solar observations from Erika RixCurrent space missions newsThe Cassini Main Page. Containing all the latest news from the Cassini Spacecraft around Saturn. Leading into Cassini status reports, The Cassini Gallery of all the latest images from Cassini. Seeing Saturn and all her moons like never before.Daily Sky maps, Celestial Events Calendar.Observatories Gallery, Images from the Great Observatories on Earth and Above. The Stellar Nights  Gallery, An amateur astronomical collection from John Crilly, Richard Handy, Erika Rix, and Paul RixCloudy Nights Telescope Reviews / An Atronomical Community.The latest in Computer, Nanotechnology, and General Technological advancements.The latest in Aviation achievements in civil, military, and space aviationGlobal News Videos, a different kind of news covarage that often overlooked.The news archive from Scientific Frontline's past articles. A world of knowledge at your fingertips.Abstracts, Journals, and Technical papers maintained by Scientific Frontline. The Gateway to all the galleries in the Scientific Frontline collectionSea Shepherd Org. Help save the whales!Research Department | Staff and Researchers OnlySite Related links from major universities, government and private research labs.Assorted Downloads related to space, science, aviation, including screensavers and ASTROMONY SOFTWARE, and other endorsed programs.Scientific Frontline Forum | HypercubeThe foundation of an online publication by SFL ORG. News Network called Scientific FrontlineContact page to Scientific Frontline / SFL ORG. News NetworkDisclaimer / Legal Notice for use of the SFL ORG. News Network's publication Scientific Frontline
Previous Photo Next Photo
Cassini Gallery 2007
Cassini Gallery 2010
Cassini Gallery 2011
Cassini Gallery 2006
Cassini Gallery 2008
Cassini Gallery 2012
Cassini Gallery 2009

Saturn's Surprisingly Stormy South
Nov. 09, 2006

Saturn's Surprisingly Stormy South
Nov. 09, 2006
Description :

Saturn's Surprisingly Stormy South

Nov. 09, 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.

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


Powered by Gallery v1 RSS

SFL ORG Educational News Network

Copyright Notice
The Images and Video's in the gallery pages may be protected by copyright. You may download one copy for non-commercial personal use to be displayed on your personal computer. Use other then non-commercial requires that you obtain permission if copyrighted from the copyright holder. See disclaimer page for more detail. We will help direct you to the proper source if you are unsure of copyright holder or your usage. Please always state proper source / credit.

Scientific Frontline®, Stellar Nights®, E.A.R.®, and Environmental Awareness Report®”
Are Registered Trademarks of the
Online Publication of the SFL ORG. Educational News Network
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA
A Not-for-Profit Educational News Service
© 2005 - 2012 All Rights Reserved

Home | Comm. Center | Space Weather Center | Galleries | About Us | FAQ | Site Map | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service