Thursday, July 03, 2014

Happy Tenth, Cassini!

Cassini has been at Saturn for ten years now. Ten years! From among my favorites:


Wow... sunlight filtering through and reflecting off the rings to illuminate Saturn's southern hemisphere while the north remains in darkness. Note how dark the B-ring looks, its density blocking the sun's light. Below lurks Tethys, barely visible.

the hand of PrometheusWe keep seeing wondrous things through Cassini's eyes. Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) is seen here with two long streamers of material that it has pulled out of the F ring. When Prometheus comes close to the F ring in its orbit, the moon's gravity tugs on the ring particles. The disturbed particles, now pulled into orbits slightly closer to Saturn and therefore faster, shear out during successive orbits, creating the long and delicate streamers seen here.


Three of Saturn's smaller moons and its rings - from Mimas (at the top outside the rings altogether, 397 kilometers, or 247 miles across) to Pandora ( outside the F ring and 84 kilometers, or 52 miles across) to little Atlas (to the left, between the F and A rings and only 32 kilometers, or 20 miles across). This picture was taken from below the rings by Cassini in September 2007; doesn't it appear as if we're looking down, though? But we're looking up, so Pandora is closest to us, not farthest!


As always, see the Cassini home page for more.

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