Secrets On Saturn
Reported February 2011
MADISON, Wis. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's a billion miles from earth, the second largest planet, and it can dip to negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit. We're talking about Saturn. Until now, little was known about what happens on this mysterious planet. But a space mission and a special camera are allowing scientists to see Saturn like never before.
You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player.
Click here to download and install it.
What do you know about Saturn? While Saturn is known for its rings, here's something you probably don't know: this planet has cyclones!
"Saturn is not really the nice, placid, lovely place that you see looking from the earth," Kevin Baines, Ph.D., a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Ivanhoe.
Hurricanes are a type of cyclone on earth, but to find out about another planet’s weather, planetary scientist Kevin Baines and a large team of researchers looked at data from the Cassini Spacecraft. It's been orbiting Saturn for five years and has captured one-of-a-kind images and videos.
"We're seeing Saturn in a whole new light, literally, because we're using wavelengths of light that have never been looked at before," Dr. Baines said.
Saturn's north pole has been in winter for almost 15 years and is dark, so scientists haven't been able to see it until now. A special infrared camera on the spacecraft, called Vims, can see more wavelengths of light than the human eye can see, allowing researchers to map the clouds on the planet's north pole in 352 different colors. They found something they had never seen before, a large cyclone storm!
"It's actually like flushing a toilet, so when you flush a toilet, the outside part of the water moves slowly and as you go into the core of the water, it's moving fast," Dr. Baines said.
In fact, the center of the cyclone has winds that are up to 280 miles per hour. Unlike hurricanes on earth, this cyclone has no body of water to fuel it.
"We're finding that it's a very active place, an active world with violent storms in it, that no one knew before," Dr. Baines said.
New images that have changed the way scientists see Saturn. 250 scientists from 17 different countries are involved in the Cassini Mission, which will continue until 2017. At that time, researchers will do what they call a "kamikaze" run to get rid of the spacecraft, letting it dive right into Saturn. Doctor Baines says they will be able to obtain unique movies and pictures as the cameras on the spacecraft dip between the ring and the planet for the first time.
The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This Month's TV Reports
A million people a year die from malaria, a life-threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Now, scientists have developed a new weapon that could bring us a malaria-proof mosquito.
Stopping Salmonella in Eggs
Each year 40-thousand cases of salmonella poisoning are reported in the u-s. Now a new technology is helping eggs cool down to stop salmonella.
Talking to Animals
71-percent of the earths' surface is covered by the sea. Now go the behind the scenes and talk to animals at a marine lab. We’ll show you what a couple of dolphins, a monk seal and a sea otter are doing to help save the sea
Ocean Energy: Powering Our Future
We depend on fossil fuels for 85-percent of our nation’s energy supply, so it's no wonder a team of scientists is looking at generating electricity from a really big source—the Atlantic Ocean.
Crocheting A Coral Reef
Our planet's coral reefs are endangered. Watch, as several thousand balls of yarn become a sea of life in a one-of-a-kind, handmade coral reef.
Uncovering Treasures of the Past
Theories from great minds, discoveries from 150-million years ago, and paintings from artists we see in the best museums in the world…Now a powerful x-ray may change the way we think about the past
Forget dishpan hands! A new soap-free, scrub-free self-cleaning coat could change housework forever.
Secrets on Saturn
Travel to space! The amazing pictures that have scientists seeing Saturn in a whole new light.
Giant Steps after Joint Replacement
Each year more than 700-thousand people in the U.S undergo joint replacement surgery, and recovery can be a pain. But a new device is helping get patients back on their feet faster and with less pain.
Hollywood Comes to the OR
To make sure the patient gets the best care, doctors work harder and longer than anyone else. But did you know almost 90-percent of doctors who perform minimally invasive surgeries suffer neck, shoulder and back pain? Now doctors are studying other doctors to help make surgery easier and safer.
Shaking Smokers Up
Every eight seconds someone dies from tobacco use. Now a new experimental therapy is helping shake things up—You’ve got to see this to believe it!
Healthy Snacks: Eat This - Not That!
Here’s something to eat along with your “apple-a-day”. Find out which snack foods pack a healthy punch. We’ll tell you what the #1 snack is for your family.