This cylindrical projection global map is one of six new color maps of Saturn's midsized icy moons, constructed using 10 years of image data from the Cassini spacecraft. Discovered by Cassini (the astronomer) in 1684, Dione is about 1,120 kilometers across. Based on data extending from infrared to ultraviolet, the full resolution of this latest space-age map is 250 meters per pixel.
The dancing light of the auroras on Saturn behaves differently from how scientists had thought possible. By choreographing the instruments aboard the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini spacecraft, while it was enroute to Saturn, to look at Saturn's southern polar region, scientists found in 2005 that the planet's auroras, long thought of as a cross between those of Earth and Jupiter, are fundamentally unlike those observed on either of the other two planets.
New atmospheric data for the gas giants indicates that carbon is abundant in its dazzling crystal form, they say.
Lightning storms turn methane into soot (carbon) which as it falls hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond.
These diamond "hail stones" eventually melt into a liquid sea in the planets' hot cores, they told a conference.
The biggest diamonds would likely be about a centimetre in diameter - "big enough to put on a ring, although of course they would be uncut," says Dr Kevin Baines, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.