Tag Archives | Saturn

Jupiter And Saturn May Experience Rain Of Liquid Diamonds

raining diamondsOn other planets, it rains diamonds. Nature writes:

It may actually be raining diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter, according to two planetary scientists.

In their scenario, lightning zaps molecules of methane in the upper atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter, liberating carbon atoms. As the soot particles slowly float down through ever-denser layers of gaseous and liquid hydrogen, it is compressed into graphite, and then into solid diamonds before reaching a temperature of about 8,000 °C, when the diamond melts, forming liquid diamond raindrops. Saturn may harbor about 10 million tonnes of diamond produced this way.

“If you had a robot there, it would sit there and collect diamonds raining down,” Baines says. In their vision of the year 2469, diamonds would be collected on Saturn and used to make the ultra-strong hulls of mining ships delving deep into the planet’s interior to collect helium-3 for clean-burning fusion fuel.

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Oxygen Discovered Around Saturn’s Icy Moon Dione

DionePallab Ghosh reports on BBC News:
A NASA spacecraft has detected oxygen around one of Saturn's icy moons, Dione. The discovery supports a theory that suggests all of the moons near Saturn and Jupiter might have oxygen around them. Researchers say that their finding increases the likelihood of finding the ingredients for life on one of the moons orbiting gas giants. The study has been published in Geophysical Research Letters. According to co-author Andrew Coates of University College London, Dione has no liquid water and so does not have the conditions to support life. But it is possible that other moons of Jupiter and Saturn do ...
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NASA Scientists Discover Evidence ‘That Alien Life Exists’ on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Artist's impression of a mirror-smooth lake on Titan's surface. Credit: NASA

Andrew Hough writes in the Telegraph:

Researchers at the space agency believe they have discovered vital clues that appeared to indicate that primitive aliens could be living on the planet.

Data from Nasa’s Cassini probe has analysed the complex chemistry on the surface of Titan, which experts say is the only moon around the planet to have a dense atmosphere.

They have discovered that life forms have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel. Astronomers claim the moon is generally too cold to support even liquid water on its surface.

The research has been detailed in two separate studies.

The first paper, in the journal Icarus, shows that hydrogen gas flowing throughout the planet’s atmosphere disappeared at the surface. This suggested that alien forms could in fact breathe. The second paper, in the Journal of Geophysical Research, concluded that there was lack of the chemical on the surface.

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Saturn’s Strange Hexagon Recreated in the Lab

From Science Now:

Saturn boasts one of the solar system’s most geometrical features: a giant hexagon encircling its north pole. Though not as famous as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, Saturn’s Hexagon is equally mysterious. Now researchers have recreated this formation in the lab using little more than water and a spinning table—an important first step, experts say, in finally deciphering this cosmic mystery.

Saturn’s striped appearance comes from jet streams that fly east to west through its atmosphere at different latitudes. Most jets form circular bands, but the Voyager spacecraft snapped pictures of an enormous hexagonally shaped one (each side rivals Earth’s diameter) when it passed over the planet’s north pole in 1988. Stumped scientists first attributed the shape to a huge, stormlike vortex along one of the hexagon’s sides, which Voyager also spotted during its journey. Astronomers believed this gyre was altering the jet stream’s course, much in the same way a large rock would change a nearby river’s path.

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Pacman Eats The Death Star!

From Universe Today:

Mimas has drawn a fair amount of attention with its “Death Star”-like appearance, but with new images from the Cassini spacecraft, this icy moon of Saturn has just gotten a lot more interesting. The highest-resolution-yet temperature map and images of Mimas reveal surprising patterns on the surface of the small moon, including unexpected hot regions that resemble “Pac-Man” eating the Death Star crater (officially known as Herschel Crater), as well as striking bands of light and dark in crater walls.

“After much deliberation, we have concluded: Mimas is NOT boring,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader, in an e-mail about the new images. “Who knew?!” And best of all, Porco added, “be sure you have a pair of red/green glasses handy ’cause you won’t want to miss peering into gigantic Herschel crater in 3D!”

Cassini collected the data on Feb. 13, and Porco said the team has spent some quality time poring over the images.

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Saturn’s Mysterious Hexagon Emerges from Winter Darkness

From Physorg.com:

After waiting years for the sun to illuminate Saturn’s north pole again, cameras aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have captured the most detailed images yet of the intriguing hexagon shape crowning the planet.

The new images of the hexagon, whose shape is the path of a jet stream flowing around the north pole, reveal concentric circles, curlicues, walls and streamers not seen in previous images.

The last visible-light images of the entire hexagon were captured by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft nearly 30 years ago, the last time spring began on Saturn. After the sunlight faded, darkness shrouded the north pole for 15 years. Much to the delight and bafflement of Cassini scientists, the location and shape of the hexagon in the latest images match up with what they saw in the Voyager pictures.

“The longevity of the hexagon makes this something special, given that weather on Earth lasts on the order of weeks,” said Kunio Sayanagi, a Cassini imaging team associate at the California Institute of Technology.

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