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Why Saturn is hot: Cassini revealed the secret of a giant planet

Why Saturn is hot: Cassini revealed the secret of a giant planet

Mapping of Saturn’s upper atmosphere revealed the mystery of this planet. It helped to find out the reason that makes the atmosphere of the gas giant hot. Only a few planets in the solar system have the same feature as Saturn. These are Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Earth. Only the Earth is closest to the Sun and this explains the heating of the upper layers of its atmosphere.

And other planets are far from the Sun. And their source of heat was one of the great mysteries of planetary science. The Cassini spacecraft found a detailed explanation of why the upper layers of Saturn’s atmosphere, and possibly other gas giants, are so hot. This explanation also describes the auroras at the north and south poles of the planet.


Electric currents, which are caused by interactions between solar winds and charged particles from Saturn's satellites, create auroras, and the upper layer of the planet’s atmosphere heats up. The upper atmosphere of the gas giant, unlike the Earth, is poorly understood. Scientists have created a complete picture of how heat circulates in the planet’s atmosphere using the Cassini comic apparatus.

They gained new knowledge about auroral electric currents that heat the upper atmosphere of Saturn and influence the formation of winds. The wind and its force can distribute this energy, which is initially formed near the poles, transferring it to the equatorial regions. At the same time, it heats twice as much compared to the temperatures that the sun gives.

Tommy Koskinen, a member of the Cassini team, believes that the results are very important for a common understanding of the planetary upper atmosphere. They provide the basis for solving the problem - why the upper part of the atmosphere is excessively hot, and the rest because of the distance from the Sun is cold. NASA's orbiter has been monitoring Saturn for nearly 13 years.


During this time, the apparatus was studied by one of the satellites of the planet - Enceladus, noting that it could have conditions for life. But a particular achievement of the spacecraft is mapping, which formed the basis of key data for a new temperature map of the planet’s atmosphere.