The Cassini spacecraft turns up new findings as it investigates Saturn's atmosphere.


Hello and welcome to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. I’m Todd Barber with your latest news from Saturn.

The familiar “banded” appearance of Saturn’s atmosphere was recently investigated by Cassini. These bands are caused by zonal winds, like jet streams on planet Earth, and they’re often flanked by giant rotating storms, or eddies. In yet another example of planetary science reminding us how much we have to learn, we now believe these powerful jet streams are actually driven by the eddies. This is exactly the opposite of what we thought prior to Cassini.

Jupiter may be the giant of our solar system but, in my humble opinion, Saturn is the gem. In this recent breathtaking natural-color image, there’s as much artistry and sublime beauty as there is science.

Our quick thinking radar team actually retargeted their instrument to more optimally view the apparent sibling of Earth's Caspian Sea. This enabled a better look at this intriguing feature. Most importantly, it might offer further evidence for surface liquid on a body other than the Earth, perhaps even with estimates of the amounts of liquid in this other worldly organic sea.

Cassini's next Titan flyby will be on May 28, 2007, and it will be primarily be devoted to radio science. The properties of Titan’s polar atmosphere, including the north polar vortex, will reveal themselves during this unique geometric opportunity. The spacecraft will also image a bright surface feature on Titan named Dilmun, using infrared and visible light cameras.

From Pasadena, California, this is Todd Barber with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and your latest news from the ringed planet.
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