The Corpus Callosum

Mysterious Aurora Spotted on Saturn

The Cassini orbiter shows us what is happening in the final frontier:

i-c746df5ce5ad49a5d1eb92606ba02627-081113-saturn-photo_big.jpg

This is an aurora on Saturn.  It’s false-color, obviously. The
technique is explained on the href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia11396.html">NASA
site:

This image of the northern polar region of Saturn
shows both the aurora and underlying atmosphere, seen at two different
wavelengths of infrared light as captured by NASA’s Cassini
spacecraft.

Energetic particles, crashing into the upper atmosphere cause the
aurora, shown in blue, to glow brightly at 4 microns (six times the
wavelength visible to the human eye).  The image shows both a
bright ring, as seen from Earth, as well as an example of bright
auroral emission within the polar cap that had been undetected until
the advent of Cassini.  This aurora, which defies past
predictions of what was expected, has been observed to grow even
brighter than is shown here.  Silhouetted by the glow (cast
here to the color red) of the hot interior of Saturn (clearly seen at a
wavelength of 5 microns, or seven times the wavelength visible to the
human eye) are the clouds and haze that underlie this auroral region.

Click here
for the bigger (1400px × 1127px) version.  Click href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/62720906.html">here
for a comparable phenomenon on Jupiter.