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Scientists view stunning images of Saturnian aurora

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PASADENA (BNS): Scientists at NASA have acquired new stunning images of Saturn’s aurora by extracting data from the Cassini spacecraft.

The images reveal that the shimmering phenomenon on the distant planet significantly varies over the course of a Saturnian day, which lasts for around 10 hours and 47 minutes.

The aurora brightens up significantly for several hours during noon and midnight, suggesting that the brightening is connected with the angle of the Sun.

Other features can be seen to rotate with the planet, reappearing at the same time and the same place on the second day, suggesting that these are directly controlled by the orientation of Saturn's magnetic field, according to NASA.

The new images also show Saturn's aurora glowing in green around the planet's South Pole.

“Saturn's auroras are very complex and we are only just beginning to understand all the factors involved.

“This study will provide a broader view of the wide variety of different auroral features that can be seen, and will allow us to better understand what controls these changes in appearance,” Tom Stallard, lead scientist of the new study on Saturnian aurora, said.

Stallard and his colleagues have investigated about 1,000 images from the 7,000 that the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument (VIMS) on board Cassini has taken to date of Saturn's auroral region.

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Saturn  Cassini  
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