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Eats, Breathes, Thinks, Creates

Saturn’s rings and Mimas, photographed by Cassini, 19-20 September 2012.

Cassini’s View of Saturn’s High North Saturn’s high north is a seething cauldron of activity filled with roiling cloud bands and swirling vortices. A corner of the north polar hexagon is seen at upper right. The image was taken on Aug. 25, 2008 at a distance of approximately 541,000 km (336,000 mi) from Saturn. Image scale is 29 km (18 mi) per pixel.  Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

The Science Report
by Stuart Gary
Moons leave their mark on Jupiter’s aurora
I’ve just written a story for ABC Science about astronomers confirming that Ganymede’s journey around Jupiter causes spots to appear in the giant planet’s spectacular electric blue auroral lights.
The discovery, confirms the footprints are caused by Jupiter’s moons passing through plasma of particles in the planet’s magnetic bubble or magnetosphere.
The particles are generated by eruptions on Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io.
If you missed my radio report on the story and want to find out more, check out the online version at:

The asteroid Itokawa, photographed by Hayabusa.
Itokawa is by far the smallest object featured on this blog, measuring only about 535 metres in length, and less than 300 metres in width and height.  Its surface gravity is tiny (much less than a millimetre per second squared), so the spacecraft entered an orbit round the sun that was roughly parallel to the asteroid’s orbit, here about 7km away.  So the rotation seen in the gif is Itokawa’s rotation, not the result of a camera orbiting around it.
Hayabusa later landed on the surface, collected some dust, and returned it to Earth for analysis.  Google Images doesn’t seem to know of the photos near the surface, so I uploaded most of the good ones to an Imgur album here (edit: Google Images doesn’t recognise the photos I upload to it, but searching for ‘itokawa surface’ brings up some scattered results).  I wouldn’t have guessed that a small asteroid would comprise lots of little rocks, just barely held together by their very weak gravity.  But apparently such rubble piles are common.

The Southern Reaches

The south pole of Mars, as seen by the Mars Express orbiter in infrared, green, and blue light.
Credit: ESA / G. Neukum (Freie Universitaet, Berlin) / Bill Dunford

chorus: Clouds on Mars, photographed by Mars Express, 20th December 2005.
Around 70°S 192°E on the southern Terra Sirenum; this composite is about 50 by 75km. Charlier Crater is partially seen at top. The clouds might be dust picked from the dark region below, but I’m not sure.
Composite of 8 images: 3 (red, green, and blue light) for colour, and 5 monochromatic (ish) in sequence for motion. The colours are probably more suggestive than naturalistic.
Image credit: ESA. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

A Lunar Mosaic
Image Credit: Carlo Muccini
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