Cassini’s Saturn

December 19th, 2012 | Space

The Cassini space probe was launched back in 1997 and made it to Saturn in 2004 after an interplanetary voyage which included flybys of Venus and Jupiter.  I recently stumbled across this article on the Huffington Post, and I decided it might be a good time to share my favorite images from the Saturn portion of Cassini’s journey.

Cassini Saturn 1

“A Splendor Seldom Seen

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has delivered a glorious view of Saturn, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn’s shadow. The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. (The sun is behind the planet, which is shielding the cameras from direct sunlight.) In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase.

Cassini Saturn 2

Colorful Colossi and Changing Hues

A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, measures 3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers, across and is larger than the planet Mercury. Cassini scientists have been watching the moon’s south pole since a vortex appeared in its atmosphere in 2012. See PIA14919 and PIA14920 to learn more about this mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon.


Peeping Mimas

Saturn’s moon Mimas peeps out from behind the larger moon Dione in this view from the Cassini spacecraft.

Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is near the bottom center of the image. Saturn’s rings are also visible in the top right.

Cassini Saturn 4

Angling Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft takes an angled view toward Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal.

The moon Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) appears as a small, bright speck in the lower left of the image.

Cassini Saturn 5

Strong Jet in False Colors

A particularly strong jet stream churns through Saturn’s northern hemisphere in this false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Cassini Saturn 6

Saturn’s North Pole, Wide View

This image from NASA’s Cassini mission was taken on Nov. 27, 2012, with Cassini’s wide-angle imaging camera. The camera was pointing toward Saturn from approximately 233,742 miles (376,171 kilometers) away.

Cassini Saturn 7

Storm Tail in False Color

This false-color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn’s huge northern storm.

Cassini Saturn 8

Wispy Dione

This raw image of Saturn’s moon Dione taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the fractured region known as “wispy terrain.” The image was obtained on Dec. 20, 2010, from a distance of about 107,000 kilometers (66,000 miles).

Cassini Saturn 9

Majestic Saturn, in the Infrared

This false-color composite image, constructed from data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, shows Saturn’s rings and southern hemisphere.”

To learn more about Saturn, head to the wiki.


[All images and captions credited to NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI]

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