Tag Archives: Saturn

Views from the Solar System (209)


Saturn’s C and B Rings From the Inside Out

NASA – On July 1, 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, marking the end of the spacecraft’s nearly seven-year journey through the solar system as well as the beginning of its tour of Saturn, its rings, moons and magnetosphere.

This image, taken on June 30, 2004 during Cassini’s orbital insertion at Saturn, shows, from left to right, the outer portion of the C ring and inner portion of the B ring. The B ring begins a little more than halfway across the image. The general pattern is from “dirty” particles indicated by red to cleaner ice particles shown in turquoise in the outer parts of the rings.

The ring system begins from the inside out with the D, C, B and A rings followed by the F, G and E rings.

This image was taken with the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph instrument, which is capable of resolving the rings to show features up to 97 kilometers (60 miles) across, roughly 100 times the resolution of ultraviolet data obtained by the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado

Views from the Solar System (199)


Cassini Spacecraft Uses “Pi Transfer” to Navigate Path Around Saturn

NASA – On Jan. 19, 2007, the Cassini spacecraft took this view of Saturn and its rings — the visible documentation of a technique called a “pi transfer” completed with a Titan flyby. A pi transfer uses the gravity of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to alter the orbit of the Cassini spacecraft so it can gain different perspectives on Saturn and achieve a wide variety of science objectives. During a pi transfer, Cassini flies by Titan at opposite sides of its orbit about Saturn (i.e., Titan’s orbital position differs by pi radians between the two flybys) and uses Titan’s gravity to change its orbital perspective on the ringed planet.

> Read more: 5 Ways NASA Uses Pi

Taking in the rings in their entirety was the focus of this particular imaging sequence. Therefore, the camera exposure times were just right to capture the dark-side of its rings, but longer than that required to properly expose the globe of sunlit Saturn. Consequently, the sunlit half of the planet is overexposed.

The view is a mosaic of 36 images — that is, 12 separate sets of red, green and blue images — taken over the course of about 2.5 hours, as Cassini scanned across the entire main ring system. This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 40 degrees above the ring plane.

The images in this natural-color view were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 1.23 million kilometers (764,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 70 kilometers (44 miles) per pixel.

> Read more: Blinding Saturn

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Views from the Solar System (198)


Rhea’s Day in the Sun

NASA – A nearly full Rhea shines in the sunlight in this recent Cassini image. Rhea (949 miles, or 1,527 kilometers across) is Saturn’s second largest moon.

Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Rhea. North on Rhea is up and rotated 43 degrees to the left. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 10, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 990,000 miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Rhea. Image scale is 6 miles (9 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org

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

Views from the Solar System (186)


Round and Round

NASA – Just as Saturn’s famous hexagonal shaped jet stream encircles the planet’s north pole, the rings encircle the planet, as seen from Cassini’s position high above. Around and around everything goes!

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 43 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 23, 2013 using a spectral filter that preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 97 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini.

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

Views from the Solar System (182)


Infrared Image of Saturn’s Rings

NASA – Although it may look to our eyes like other images of the rings, this infrared image of Saturn’s rings was taken with a special filter that will only admit light polarized in one direction. Scientists can use these images to learn more about the nature of the particles that make up Saturn’s rings.

The bright spot in the rings is the “opposition surge” where the Sun-Ring-Spacecraft angle passes through zero degrees. Ring scientists can also use the size and magnitude of this bright spot to learn more about the surface properties of the ring particles.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 19 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 18, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 705 nanometers.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 712,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-rings-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 7 degrees. Image scale is 43 miles (68 kilometers) per pixel.

For more information about the Cassini mission, visit www.nasa.gov/cassini.

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

Views from the Solar System (176)


Sunlit Edge of Saturn’s Largest Moon, Titan

NASA – The sunlit edge of Titan’s south polar vortex stands out distinctly against the darkness of the moon’s unilluminated hazy atmosphere. The Cassini spacecraft images of the vortex led scientists to conclude that its clouds form at a much higher altitude — where sunlight can still reach — than the surrounding haze.

Titan (3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers across) is Saturn’s largest moon. This view looks toward the trailing hemisphere of Titan. North on Titan is up and rotated 32 degrees to the left. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 14, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 808,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 82 degrees. Image scale is 5 miles (8 kilometers) per pixel.

> View a color image of the south polar vortex on Titan

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

Views from the Solar System (161)


High Above Saturn

NASA – This portrait looking down on Saturn and its rings was created from images obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Oct. 10, 2013. It was made by amateur image processor and Cassini fan Gordan Ugarkovic. This image has not been geometrically corrected for shifts in the spacecraft perspective and still has some camera artifacts.The mosaic was created from 12 image footprints with red, blue and green filters from Cassini’s imaging science subsystem. Ugarkovic used full color sets for 11 of the footprints and red and blue images for one footprint.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic