This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft features a blue planet, but unlike the view from July 19, 2013 (PIA17172) that featured our home planet, this blue orb is Uranus, imaged by Cassini for the first time.
Uranus is a pale blue in this natural color image because its visible atmosphere contains methane gas and few aerosols or clouds. Methane on Uranus — and its sapphire-colored sibling, Neptune — absorbs red wavelengths of incoming sunlight, but allows blue wavelengths to escape back into space, resulting in the predominantly bluish color seen here. Cassini imaging scientists combined red, green and blue spectral filter images to create a final image that represents what human eyes might see from the vantage point of the spacecraft.
Uranus has been brightened by a factor of 4.5 to make it more easily visible. The outer portion of Saturn’s A ring, seen at bottom right, has been brightened by a factor of two. The bright ring cutting across the image center is Saturn’s narrow F ring.
Uranus was approximately 28.6 astronomical units from Cassini and Saturn when this view was obtained. An astronomical unit is the average distance from Earth to the sun, equal to 93,000,000 miles (150,000,000 kilometers).
Onion Special Report: NASA Discovers Planet Earth Just Might Be What It’s Been Searching for All Along
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After years of launching shuttles, probes, and telescopes to see what the universe had to offer, NASA says it’s ready to appreciate the planet right in front of it.
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.
Tonight’s awesome image from outer space: an infrared view of the Orion Nebula, courtesy of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This stunning false-color view spans about 40 light-years across the region, constructed using infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Compared to its visual wavelength appearance, the brightest portion of the nebula is likewise centered on Orion’s young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But the infrared image also detects the nebula’s many protostars, still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. In fact, red spots along the dark dusty filament to the left of the bright cluster include the protostar cataloged as HOPS 68, recently found to have crystals of the silicate mineral olivine within its protostellar envelope.
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.
Today, a spacecraft designed by human beings left behind our familiar neighborhood and entered the vast interstellar void. Rebecca J. Rosen has a post at The Atlantic with the following amazing Soundcloud audio file - the distant cry of other solar systems, measured by the oscillations of our private star.
A look back at the best views of our planet from space in the last year, including true color satellite images, Earth science data visualizations, time lapses from the International Space Station, and computer models.
NPP “Blue Marble”
Time-lapse from International Space Station
NPP daytime view followed by night views
River Outflow to the Kara Sea
Bylot Island Comparison
Crop Circles in the Desert
Crack in the Pine Island Glacier
Tiny Shrimp, Big Changes
Petermann Ice Island 2012
United States Active Fires 2012
Gulf Stream Sea Surface Currents and Temperatures
Daily 2012 ozone hole
Daily Sea Ice during Aug & Sept 2012 with Winds
Circulation of Ocean Currents around the Western Antarctic Ice Shelves
Hurricane Sandy’s winds
Aerosols from GEO-5 Nature Run Collection
Moonset time-lapse from International Space Station
This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov
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