05 February 2007

In the Shadow of Saturn

Boy, this is cool.You can see the super-high-res image at NASA's web site. If you look carefully, just inside the outer G-ring, at about the 10 o'clock position, you can see the pale blue dot of Earth, at a range of about a billion miles. It's only visible on the high-res image.

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world.

This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The full mosaic consists of three rows of nine wide-angle camera footprints; only a portion of the full mosaic is shown here. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.

The mosaic images were acquired as the spacecraft drifted in the darkness of Saturn's shadow for about 12 hours, allowing a multitude of unique observations of the microscopic particles that compose Saturn's faint rings.

Ring structures containing these tiny particles brighten substantially at high phase angles: i.e., viewing angles where the sun is almost directly behind the objects being imaged.

1 comment:

Matt said...

This was the cover photo on National Geographic not long ago, a factof ro which I take personal responsibility. They had a vote for this or some other not as interesting shot, and I voted for this one.

I guess yo might call me the cover editor for Nat. Geo. if you want to.