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'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds At Saturn

Date:
October 6, 2006
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
A new image of Saturn demonstrates a technique that creates a 'Chinese lantern' effect, showing Saturn's deep clouds silhouetted against the planet's warm, glowing interior. Seen this way, Saturn's interior shows surprising activity underneath the overlying haze, with a great variety of cloud shapes and sizes.
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This false-color mosaic of Saturn shows deep-level clouds silhouetted against Saturn's glowing interior.
Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

A new image of Saturn demonstrates a technique that creates a 'Chinese lantern' effect, showing Saturn's deep clouds silhouetted against the planet's warm, glowing interior. Seen this way, Saturn's interior shows surprising activity underneath the overlying haze, with a great variety of cloud shapes and sizes.

Because upper-level hazes and clouds obscure the view of these deep clouds in visible light, imaging clouds in the depths of Saturn is not practical using visible-light cameras. Several recent images obtained by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer were combined in a way that highlights the deep clouds in silhouette against the background radiation of heat generated by Saturn's interior. This literally lights the planet from the inside, like a lantern.

Clouds and hazes in Saturn's northern hemisphere are noticeably thinner than those in its southern hemisphere. This is thought to be a seasonal effect; this idea will be tested as Saturn's northern hemisphere enters springtime in the next few years.

Bright red colors indicate areas relatively free of deep-level clouds and particles, while darker red colors are cloudy regions. Images like these show Saturn's deep clouds under both daytime and nighttime conditions.

The image, produced by team members at the University of Arizona, Tucson, is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov, and http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu .

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona.


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The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds At Saturn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006074637.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2006, October 6). 'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds At Saturn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006074637.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds At Saturn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061006074637.htm (accessed May 28, 2015).

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