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Saturn's hexagon recreated in the laboratory

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/04 12:32 CDT | 13 comments

A lot of readers have expressed interest in the origin of Saturn's north polar hexagon. The hexagon is a long-lived pattern in the clouds surrounding Saturn's north pole, which has been observed since the Voyagers passed by in 1980 and 1981.

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Hubble turns 20

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/23 03:02 CDT

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. It's hard to believe it's been going strong for so many years.

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A feast of pretty pictures from Cassini

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/12 01:28 CDT

Cassini has it almost too easy. Point at anything in the Saturn system and you're guaranteed of a shot that looks, at least, pretty.

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Pretty picture: Rhea, rings, and two little moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/06 03:07 CDT

Here's a lovely picture whose components came down from Cassini a few days ago.

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Pointing at Helene

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/10 11:40 CST

I posted already some neat images from Cassini's flyby of Helene last week, and commented on how most of the images from that encounter missed Helene entirely or only caught the moon at one edge of the camera field of view. Here's an example of one of those images.

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Hubble sees both of Saturn's aurorae

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/12 01:01 CST

Yesterday, the European wing of the Hubble PR machine released this cool image of Saturn and its aurorae, with an associated video.

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Hooray! Cassini's tour has been extended for SEVEN MORE YEARS!

Posted by Emily LakdawallaJohn Spencer on 2010/02/03 01:12 CST

NASA has just announced that once Cassini's Equinox Mission runs out in June of this year, they will extend it a further seven more years, long enough for the spacecraft to see Saturn through its solstice!!

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Highlights from the January 1, 2010 Cassini imaging data release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 03:43 CST

The January 1, 2010 Cassini imaging data release includes everything acquired by Cassini from January 1 to March 30, 2009 in all its high-quality glory.

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Awesome Cassini mutual event movies

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/23 01:04 CST

I love posting animations of Cassini images that I compose from frames grabbed from the mission's raw images website, but they are shoddy compared to the versions that eventually come out from the mission's imaging team.

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Planetary Society Advent Calendar for December 12: Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/12 03:17 CST

Cassini's amazing cameras have set a new standard for the quality, sharpness, resolution, beautiful color, and all-around spectacularness of images returned from the outer solar system.

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Saturn's aurora, even better than before

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/24 03:35 CST

The Cassini imaging team have posted their own processed and captioned version of the Saturn's aurora movie that I posted a preview of about six weeks ago, and it was worth the wait.

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Four moons and a ring

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/10 02:21 CST

Thanks to Mike Malaska for the tip on this one. The image is part of an animation that ends with Rhea transiting Saturn.

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Planetary Radio Q and A: Saturn's Hexagon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/04 04:14 CST

On "Questions and Answers" I answered this question: "How do they explain the hexagon near Saturn's north pole?"

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Planetary Radio Q and A: Not-so-gassy giants

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/04 04:02 CST

On Planetary Radio's "Questions and Answers" I answered this question: "I read that Uranus got its tilt when it was hit by another object. What does it mean for a ball of gas to be hit -- wouldn't another object just pass through it?"

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Spinning spokes in Saturn's rings

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/21 02:27 CDT

Here's a neat animation captured last month by Cassini and assembled by Mike Malaska: spokes in Saturn's B ring.

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Saturn shadows shift with the seasons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/19 03:39 CDT

So many goodies on the Cassini raw images website lately! I am especially excited when Cassini takes photos through red, green, and blue filters so that it's possible to create views that look roughly like what you'd see with your own eyes.

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A brief word on Saturn's radius

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/15 06:44 CDT

I've had two people write in to correct my Phoebe ring post from yesterday.

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The Phoebe ring

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/14 04:06 CDT

Last week, planetary astronomers Anne Verbiscer, Michael Skrutskie, and Doug Hamilton published a paper in Nature succinctly titled "Saturn's Largest Ring." In the paper, they announce the discovery, using the Spitzer infrared space telescope, of a gargantuan, previously unseen ring around Saturn, encompassing the orbit of Phoebe.

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OMG! Aurora!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/12 10:43 CDT

Unmannedspaceflight.com member Astro0 was fiddling around with an interesting-looking sequence of Cassini images when he discovered their purpose -- they were gathered in order to see if Cassini could catch aurorae flaring into being near Saturn's north pole. Cassini sure did!

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Cassini RADAR continues to gaze at Titan

Posted by Jani Radebaugh on 2009/07/27 07:08 CDT

The Cassini spacecraft made its 59th flyby of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, on Friday, July 24, and in the last few hours we have received images from the RADAR instrument in SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) mode.

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