Science Daily: Saturn

Noxious ice cloud on Saturn's moon Titan

Researchers with NASA's Cassini mission found evidence of a toxic hybrid ice in a wispy cloud high above the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

To keep Saturn's A ring contained, its moons stand united

For three decades, astronomers thought that only Saturn's moon Janus confined the planet's A ring -- the largest and farthest of the visible rings. But after poring over NASA's Cassini mission data, astronomers now conclude that the teamwork of seven moons keeps this ring corralled.

Intense storms batter Saturn’s largest moon, scientists report

Titan, the largest of Saturn's more than 60 moons, has surprisingly intense rainstorms, according to research by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists. Although the storms are relatively rare -- they occur less than once per Titan year, which is 29 and a half Earth years -- they occur much more frequently than the scientists expected.

Reconstructing Cassini's plunge into Saturn

As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its fateful dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn on Sept. 15, the spacecraft was live-streaming data from eight of its science instruments, along with readings from a variety of engineering systems. While analysis of science data from the final plunge will take some time, Cassini engineers already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft itself behaved as it went in.

The strange structures of the Saturn nebula

The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues. This colourful image was captured by the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The map -- which reveals a wealth of intricate structures in the dust, including shells, a halo and a curious wave-like feature -- will help astronomers understand how planetary nebulae develop their strange shapes and symmetries.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft ends its historic exploration of Saturn

A thrilling epoch in the exploration of our solar system has come to a close, as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made a fateful plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet. Cassini's plunge brings to a close a series of 22 dives between Saturn and its rings, a feat never before attempted by any spacecraft.

NASA's Webb Telescope will study our solar system's 'ocean worlds'

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will use its infrared capabilities to study the "ocean worlds" of Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, adding to observations previously made by NASA's Galileo and Cassini orbiters. The Webb telescope's observations could also help guide future missions to the icy moons.

Saturn-lit Tethys

Cassini gazes across the icy rings of Saturn toward the icy moon Tethys, whose night side is illuminated by Saturnshine, or sunlight reflected by the planet.

Cassini says goodbye to a true Titan

Mere weeks away from its dramatic, mission-ending plunge into Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has a hectic schedule, orbiting the planet every week in its Grand Finale. On a few orbits, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been near enough to tweak Cassini's orbit, causing the spacecraft to approach Saturn a bit closer or a bit farther away. A couple of those distant passes even pushed Cassini into the inner fringes of Saturn's rings.

Cassini to begin final five orbits around Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will enter new territory in its final mission phase, the Grand Finale, as it prepares to embark on a set of ultra-close passes through Saturn's upper atmosphere with its final five orbits around the planet.

Complex chemistry in Saturn's moon Titan's atmosphere

Saturn’s frigid moon Titan has a curious atmosphere. In addition to a hazy mixture of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, like methane and ethane, Titan’s atmosphere also contains an array of more complex organic molecules, including vinyl cyanide, which astronomers recently uncovered in archival ALMA data. Under the right conditions, like those found on the surface of Titan, vinyl cyanide may naturally coalesce into microscopic spheres resembling cell membranes.