The Cassini mission that was started almost three years ago, on the 15th of September 2017, has recently finished. The Cassini spacecraft has disintegrated in Saturn’s atmosphere into nothingness. For more than five months, NASA’s spacecraft has researched the close orbits of Saturn.
Through 22 missions, Cassini has analyzed the main body and rings of the giant planet.
These five months were crucial in discovering unique details regarding the atmosphere of the planet, as well as its unique rings, the magnetic field, and the opaque clouds it presents. All of these discoveries are bringing scientists closer to the actual truth regarding the planet’s climate.
Cassini’s study has been the basis of a survey developed by a group of researchers from the Nature Astronomy.
On the 6th of April, they developed a specially designed map that shows the exact temperatures on the surface of Saturn. They soon understood that the planet is currently facing an energy crisis.
Although on Earth, an energy crisis involves a lack of natural resources, for the giant planet, the energy crisis involves alarmingly high temperatures on its upper atmosphere, being twice more than they should measure.
The Significance of the Cassini Mission
The Cassini has managed to determine the cause of this unprecedented phenomenon: it might be the planet’s aurorae that is responsible for delivering these high temperatures.
Scientists have been trying for years to understand why the planet’s thermosphere is twice as hotter as it should be. Given the position of the planet, the temperatures should be around -100 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, Saturn’s temperatures range from 170 to 620 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers came to understand that the abnormal temperatures are occurring only where auroras take place. These phenomena happen when the Sun emits solar particles through solar winds that manage to reach Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
The exciting thing is that Saturn is not the only planet experiencing this inexplicable phenomenon. Jupiter and Uranus have the same experiences with extremely high temperatures in their upper atmosphere.