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Stormy Saturn and Some Space Trivia

Move over, Mars, you’re not the only act in town that can show folks some extreme weather.

The orbiting Cassini spacecraft took this image, released today by NASA, of Saturn’s northern latitudes, including an edge of the planet’s famed atmospheric hexagon that swirls around its north pole.


—Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The tight, high-resolution shot was captured on August 25 using a wide-angle camera with a spectral filter (no, ghost hunters, it’s not what you think) that lets in infrared light.

Taken from about 336,000 miles (541,000 kilometers) above the planet, the shot encompasses 18 miles (29 kilometers) per pixel, which should give viewers some idea of the scale of those swirling storms.

As a gas giant, Saturn is almost all atmosphere, and it’s raging winds really book it—hustling the clouds around at up to 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) an hour.

For the record, those are *not* the fastest winds in the solar system. That honor goes to Neptune, where breezes can reach 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) an hour.

But Saturn does get some pretty neat superlatives, such as being the first planet known to have rings (Uranus and Neptune do, too) and being the only planet with a moon, Titan, known to have its own atmosphere.

In the spirit of space trivia, I won me a nice little graphic that confirms just how much I [heart] space, and I swear I did it with zero Googling:

The NerdTests' Space Test says I'm an Uber Space Nerd's Mentor.  What kind of space nerd are you?  Click here!

I was amused to see the factoids that accompanied my award, such as, out of the 11,105 people who have taken this test, I am among the 25.7 percent who ID’d themselves as female.

Since the demographics are voluntary, 3.9 percent of the test takers are “confused,” according to the Web site, while the vast majority so far have been men.

Interestingly, 5.6 percent of the space-lovin’ women said that they don’t believe humans have landed on the moon.

Only 3.7 percent of the men think this, although both genders are beat by the 11.8 percent of people over 60 who think the landing was a hoax. Huh.

Not that this is in any way an accurate survey of true public opinion… but it is kinda thought-provoking.


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    July 19, 2010, 4:03 am

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