Pretty Pictures From Saturn

First, this one of the moon Prometheus tugging at the F-Ring:

Note the oblong 63-mile-wide moon pointing its long axis toward Saturn. Any misshapen orb that orbits this close to a big planet will find itself aligned in this way. I’ve heard that mathematical modelling suggests this moon will graze the F-Ring in 2008 or 2009. Will it scatter ring particles, absorb them, or create a new clump of a moon? It will be good to see.

Next, we have a color image of Rhea passing between Cassini and hazy Saturn. Except for Titan’s fuzzy orange, most all of Saturn’s moons are variations on white and gray.

And the North Pole Hexagon is still part of the landscape–no, the airscape at planet 6.

The Voyager missions of 1980-81 spotted this feature. It’s still there, as imaged to the left in infrared. (Currently, the Saturnian North Pole is a bit more than a year from the end of the 14-year darkness of winter. No doubt the White Witch would nod in approval.)

This Cassini news release tells it:

The new images taken in thermal-infrared light show the hexagon extends much deeper down into the atmosphere than previously expected, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) below the cloud tops. A system of clouds lies within the hexagon. The clouds appear to be whipping around the hexagon like cars on a racetrack.

“It’s amazing to see such striking differences on opposite ends of Saturn’s poles,” said Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, University of Arizona, Tucson. “At the south pole we have what appears to be a hurricane with a giant eye, and at the north pole of Saturn we have this geometric feature, which is completely different.”

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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