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Signs Of Europa Plumes Remain Elusive In Search Of Cassini Data

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

A fresh look at data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its 2001 flyby of Jupiter shows that Europa’s tenuous atmosphere is even thinner than previously thought and also suggests that the thin, hot gas around the moon does not show evidence of plume activity occurring at the time of the flyby. The new research provides a snapshot of Europa’s state of activity at that time, and suggests that if there is plume activity, it is likely intermittent.

The Europa results are being presented today at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco and published in the Astrophysical Journal. Europa is considered one of the most exciting destinations in the solar system for future exploration because it shows strong indications of having an ocean beneath its icy crust.

Members of Cassini’s ultraviolet imaging spectrograph (UVIS) team analyzed data collected by their instrument during the brief time it observed Europa in 2001, as Cassini sped through the Jupiter system en route to Saturn. The observations show that most of the hot, excited gas, or plasma, around Europa originates not from the moon itself, but from volcanoes on the nearby moon Io. In fact, from their data, the researchers calculated that Europa contributes 40 times less oxygen than previously thought to its surrounding environment.

Link To Full Story

Cassini Finds Vortex Forming Over Titan’s South Pole


With its recent excursion out of Saturn’s equatorial plane, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has benefited from a bird’s-eye view of the south pole of the planet’s largest moon where its cameras spied a polar vortex in Titan’s atmosphere. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus and Earth also have polar vortices.

Images captured by Cassini’s imaging team during a flyby on June 27 show the polar vortex, or a mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon, as it appears to execute one full rotation in about nine hours — faster than the moon’s rotation period.

Full Story: http://www.ciclops.org/view.php?id=7239

Also: http://www.ciclops.org/view_event/177/Titans_Swirling_South_Polar_Vortex
Also: http://ciclops.org/
Also: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html

Enceladus Plume Is A New Kind Of Plasma Laboratory


PASADENA, Calif. – Recent findings from NASA’s Cassini mission reveal that Saturn’s geyser moon Enceladus provides a special laboratory for watching unusual behavior of plasma, or hot ionized gas. In these recent findings, some Cassini scientists think they have observed “dusty plasma,” a condition theorized but not previously observed on site, near Enceladus.

Data from Cassini’s fields and particles instruments also show that the usual “heavy” and “light” species of charged particles in normal plasma are actually reversed near the plume spraying from the moon’s south polar region. The findings are discussed in two recent papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

“These are truly exciting discoveries for plasma science,” said Tamas Gombosi, Cassini fields and particles interdisciplinary scientist based at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Cassini is providing us with a new plasma physics laboratory.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-149

Cassini Spies Wave Rattling Jet Stream on Jupiter

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

New movies of Jupiter are the first to catch an invisible wave shaking up one of the giant planet’s jet streams, an interaction that also takes place in Earth’s atmosphere and influences the weather. The movies, made from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft when it flew by Jupiter in 2000, are part of an in-depth study conducted by a team of scientists and amateur astronomers led by Amy Simon-Miller at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and published in the April 2012 issue of Icarus.

“This is the first time anyone has actually seen direct wave motion in one of Jupiter’s jet streams,” says Simon-Miller, the paper’s lead author. “And by comparing this type of interaction in Earth’s atmosphere to what happens on a planet as radically different as Jupiter, we can learn a lot about both planets.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-070

Cassini Captures New Images of Icy Moon

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn’s second largest moon, Rhea, were taken on March 10, 2012, by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. This was a relatively distant flyby with a close-approach distance of 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers), well suited for global geologic mapping.

During the flyby, Cassini captured these distinctive views of the moon’s cratered surface, creating a 30-frame mosaic of Rhea’s leading hemisphere and the side of the moon that faces away from Saturn. The observations included the large Mamaldi (300 miles, or 480 kilometers, across) and Tirawa (220 miles, or 360 kilometers, across) impact basins and the 29-miles (47-kilometers) ray crater Inktomi, one of the youngest surface features on Rhea (about 950 miles, or 1,530 kilometers, across).

All of Cassini’s raw images can be seen at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/ .

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-069

Cassini Significant Events 02/29/2012 – 03/06/2012

March 13, 2012 1 comment

The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data were collected March 7 using the Deep Space Network’s 34 meter Beam-Waveguide Station 25 at Goldstone in the California desert. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health. All subsystems are operating normally except for the issues being worked with the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer and the Ultrastable Oscillator. Information on the present position and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the “Present Position” page at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/presentposition/ .

Twice this week, Cassini rotated to point its Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), and Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) telescopes toward Saturn’s largest satellite for more Titan Monitoring Campaign observations. At other times, the instruments were pointed toward Saturn for the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) and ISS to measure and monitor the planet’s aurorae.

Full Story: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/significantevents/significantevents20120312/

Cassini Significant Events 02/15/2012 – 02/21/2012

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data in this reporting period were acquired on Feb. 21 from the Canberra, Australia, Deep Space Network 70 meter Station 43. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health. All subsystems are operating normally except for the issues being worked with the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer and the Ultrastable Oscillator. Information on the present position of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the “Present Position” page at:http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/presentposition/.

The highlight for this week was the flyby of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, on Sunday. Flyby altitude was 3,803 kilometers.

The week included four PIEs — Pre-Integrated Events. In the first two, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) conducted Enceladus plume observations. In second pair, the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) observed two Saturn stellar occultations, acquiring spectral data while Cassini’s motion caused the distant stars to go behind Saturn’s upper atmosphere.

Full  Story: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/significantevents/significantevents20120223/