New meteorological data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicates the value for Saturn's rotation period could be more than 5 minutes shorter than previously believed - and that Saturn is more like its larger neighbor Jupiter than previously considered. The rate at which Saturn spins provides important data for planetary scientists interested in the ringed world. Obtaining an accurate fix on that number is critical to enhancing scientist's understanding of the planet's evolution, formation and meteorology. The report on this finding, led by Cassini scientist Peter Read of Oxford University, England, is published in the July 30 issue of the journal Nature.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. JPL manages the mission for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.