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OUR BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE: Infrared aurora on Saturn

Published on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 15:40


Cassini reveals infrared aurora on Saturn. (NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona/Univ. of Leicester)


Compilation of data collected by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) has revealed images of the infrared aurora that stretches 1000km above the cloud tops. Here a composite false-colour VIMS image uses blue for reflected sunlight (2–3μm), green for infrared light from hydrogen ions (3–4μm) and red indicates thermal emission at 5μm. The dark cloud bands across the face of Saturn are silhouetted in the thermal glow from the interior of the planet, highlighting the importance of cloud circulation, while the high-altitude haze and rings reflect sunlight.

This image was made from 65 individual images, each taken over 6 minutes.


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