Among the interplay of Saturn’s shadow and rings, Mimas, which appears in the lower-right corner of the image, orbits Saturn as a set of the ever-intriguing spokes appear in the B ring (just to the right of center).
Scientists expect that spokes will soon cease to form as Saturn approaches northern equinox. The exact mechanism of spoke formation is still the subject of debate, but ring scientists do know that spokes no longer appear when the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky. It is believed that this has to do with the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming spokes. Thus, these may be some of the last spokes ever imaged by Cassini.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2013.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 146 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.
Earth’s jet stream is a subject of intense interest and concern thanks to its effects on our weather. Saturn’s polar jet stream, seen here, causes no such worries for Earthlings, so we can simply marvel at its graceful form.
This view looks toward the north pole of Saturn from about 53 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 23, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 590,000 miles (949,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 52 degrees. Image scale is 35 miles (57 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.
The Cassini imaging team homepage is at:
LGF Pages author Shiplord Kirel had a post about this earlier, but I just have to do one too because this image created by the Cassini imaging laboratory (CICLOPS) is historic — as an instrument created by humans looks toward the Sun from the orbit of Saturn, with the giant planet eclipsing the Sun’s rays. That’s some truly impressive backlighting.
Click to enlarge, or click here to see the giant 9000x3500 pixel image.
For more details on this mind-blowing photograph, Phil Plait’s post is a must-read: Saturn: Incredible Mosaic of the Ringed Wonder.
See that tiny white dot at lower right of the planet, between the hazy outer ring and the first inner ring? That’s you.
The latest photos from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn are truly spectacular. This composite true-color image was created by an amateur image processor, Gordan Ugarkovic.
Click the image for a larger version, or go to the NASA page for a giant-sized 4000 x 3200 pixel image, suitable for a desktop background even if you have a ridiculously huge monitor: High Above Saturn | NASA.