Cassini: A Splendor Seldom Seen

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Cassini: A Splendor Seldom Seen

Post by bystander » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:21 pm

NASA | JPL-Caltech | Cassini Solstice Mission | CICLOPS | 2012 Dec 18

A Splendor Seldom Seen

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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.

Since images like this can only be taken while the sun is behind the planet, this beautiful view is all the more precious for its rarity. The last time Cassini captured a view like this was in Sept. 2006, when it captured a mosaic processed to look like natural color, entitled "In Saturn's Shadow". In that mosaic, planet Earth put in a special appearance, making "In Saturn's Shadow" one of the most popular Cassini images to date. Earth does not appear in this mosaic as it is hidden behind the planet.

Also captured in this image are two of Saturn's moons: Enceladus and Tethys. Both appear on the left side of the planet, below the rings. Enceladus is closer to the rings; Tethys is below and to the left. This view looks toward the non-illuminated side of the rings from about 19 degrees below the ring plane.

Images taken using infrared, red and violet spectral filters were combined to create this enhanced-color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 17, 2012 at a distance of approximately 500,000 miles (800,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale at Saturn is about 30 miles per pixel (50 kilometers per pixel).

<< Previous Cassini

From Cassini for the Holidays: A Splendor Seldom Seen
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Cassini Solstice Mission | CICLOPS | 2012 Dec 18

Captain's Log: A Splendor Seldom Seen
CICLOPS | Carolyn Porco | 2012 Dec 18
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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Saturn's rings front and back

Post by tomruen » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:43 am

I've long been interested in Saturn's mostly hidden backlit rings, now well seen by Cassini and a recent photo: ... 14934.html

I tried to digitally compare to front side rings, using the rings from this image:
Frontside Hubble: March 22, 2004

I used a simulated a (very approximate) position for the "front view" to match the Cassini photo, scaled and rotated them to match and pasted on the right, and it worked pretty well.

The simulated Saturn clouds is from here, or something very similar.

I'm curious if anyone else has attempted this? It is hard to well see the ring correspondence from back to front lit. Some rings match, and most need a careful analysis.


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Re: Cassini: A Splendor Seldom Seen

Post by owlice » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:18 am

bystander wrote:

A closed mouth gathers no foot.