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Saturn Glowing Weirdly


The Daily Mail, UK

A stunning light display over Saturn has stumped scientists who say it behaves unlike any other planetary aurora known in our solar system.

The blueish-green glow was found over the ringed planet's north polar region just like Earth's northern lights.

It was discovered by the infrared instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The northern polar region of Saturn shows both the aurora and underlying atmosphere, as captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft

'We've never seen an aurora like this elsewhere,' said Tom Stallard, a scientist working with Cassini data at the University of Leicester.

'This aurora covers an enormous area across the pole. Our current ideas on what forms Saturn's aurora predict that this region should be empty, so finding such a bright aurora here is a fantastic surprise.'

Auroras are caused by charged particles streaming along the magnetic field lines of a planet into its atmosphere.

Particles from the sun cause Earth's auroras. Many, but not all, of the auroras at Jupiter and Saturn are caused by particles trapped within the magnetic environments of those planets.

full story

The Daily mail

posted: 11/13/2008

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