Cassini’s Final Saturn Orbits Yield Astounding Discoveries –Organic ‘Ring Rain’ to an Unknown Electric-Current System

 

Knowing Cassini’s days were numbered, its mission team went for gold. The spacecraft flew where it was never designed to fly. For the first time, it probed Saturn’s magnetized environment, flew through icy, rocky ring particles and sniffed the atmosphere in the 1,200-mile-wide (2,000-kilometer-wide) gap between the rings and the cloud tops. Not only did the flight path push the spacecraft to its limits, the new findings illustrate how powerful and agile the instruments were.

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Saturn’s Very Weird Magnetic Fields –“We Have To Rethink Their Existence on Exoplanets”

“It may still be that Saturn’s turbulent atmosphere of thick gases is obscuring some of the magnetic data, but it looks increasingly likely we will have to rethink the ways different kinds of planets can form magnetic fields.”

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Saturn’s Rings –“Far More Complex Than Previously Thought”

 

“This is a new element of how our solar system works,” said Thomas Cravens, professor of physics & astronomy at the University of Kansas and a co-author of the new paper. “Two things surprised me. One is the chemical complexity of what was coming off the rings — we thought it would be almost entirely water based on what we saw in the past. The second thing is the sheer quantity of it — a lot more than we originally expected. The quality and quantity of the materials the rings are putting into the atmosphere surprised me.”

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Saturn’s Bizarre Polar Vortex –“The Towering Hexagon Structure Could Span Hundreds of Kilometers in Height”

The presence of a hexagon way up in Saturn’s northern stratosphere, hundreds of kilometers above the clouds, suggests that there is much more to learn about the dynamics at play in the gas giant’s atmosphere.

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