Cassini has beamed back an AMAZING video during its dive into Saturn’s rings, revealing some curiously shaped features on the second largest planet in our solar system. One of the researchers who observed the video said: “I was surprised to see so many sharp edges along the hexagon’s outer boundary and the eye-wall of the polar vortex. Something must be keeping different latitudes from mixing to maintain those edges.”
The Cassini spacecraft is making history as I am writing this, and you read eagerly through the lines to take a peek at a video from Saturn.
Mesmerizing to say the least. The incredible video reveals some very exciting and bizarre features on Saturn—the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter.
Not only does this historic video offer us an unprecedented view of Saturn, it reveals some extremely curious features as the spacecraft made its way snapping a view of the swirling vortex at the planet’s north pole, then heads past the outer boundary of the hexagon-shaped jet stream and beyond.
As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its first-ever dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017, one of its imaging cameras took a series of rapid-fire images that were used to make this movie sequence. The video begins with a view of the vortex at Saturn’s North Pole, then heads past the outer boundary of the planet’s hexagon-shaped jet stream and continues further southward, reports NASA.
“I was surprised to see so many sharp edges along the hexagon’s outer boundary and the eye-wall of the polar vortex,” said Kunio Sayanagi, an associate of the Cassini imaging team based at Hampton University in Virginia, who helped produce the new movie.
“Something must be keeping different latitudes from mixing to maintain those edges,” he added.
According to reports from NASA, as the movie frames were captured, the Cassini spacecraft’s altitude above the clouds dropped from 45,000 to 4,200 miles (72,400 to 6,700 kilometers). As this occurred, the smallest resolvable features in the atmosphere changed from 5.4 miles (8.7 kilometers) per pixel to 0.5 mile (810 meters) per pixel.
Do you want to see the video right? I know, here it is:
“The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings. We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at Caltech in Pasadena, California.
Cassini has begun its descent which will eventually conclude in September of 2017.
Speaking about the Cassini spacecraft and its trip into Saturn, Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: “In the grandest tradition of exploration, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare.”
Cassini—a 6.7-meter tall spacecraft—has faithfully been orbiting Saturn for 13 years since it reached orbit in 2004. Cassini’s mission will officially terminate on September 15 when the spacecraft will plunge into Saturn.