Glorious new view of Saturn from Cassini

Backlit view of Saturn as seen by Cassini. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft has sent back thousands of beautiful photographs of Saturn and its moons, but this latest one has to rank as one of the best. This view of Saturn, as it is backlit by the Sun, is magnificent, almost surreal looking. And it’s real. In the lower left, two of Saturn’s moons can also be seen as small dots; Enceladus is closest to the planet and Tethys is a bit farther out. Simply breathtaking…

Cassini finds alien version of ‘Nile River’ on Titan

Titan’s version of the Nile River stretches across this radar image; part of the Ligeia Mare sea is also visible on the right side of the image. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASI

Want to go river rafting on Titan? The largest moon of Saturn is the only other place in the solar system known to have rivers, lakes and seas on its surface. Appearance-wise, they are eerily similar to their earthly counterparts, but are composed of liquid methane instead of water, in Titan’s extremely cold environment. Now, the Cassini spacecraft has found the largest Titanian river system yet, similar to the Nile River on Earth, as announced on December 12, 2012.

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Stunning new views of swirling storms and hexagon at Saturn’s north pole

The dramatic, swirling storms at Saturn’s north pole. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Addendum: there is also now a beautiful colour version of one of Cassini’s hexagon photos here, thanks to Jason Major.

The Cassini spacecraft has been sending back amazing images of Saturn and its moons on a regular basis, and some new ones just taken yesterday are no exception.

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Did Saturn lay an egg?

Image of Saturn’s tiny egg-shaped moon Methone taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Institute

It might seem that way in this new photo released on November 5, 2012, taken by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft, but this is actually the tiny moon Methone. The oblong shape and smooth surface make Methone look more like a huge egg than a moon.

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Boating on Titan: new mission proposal for exploring an alien lake

Radar image of Ligeia Mare, the largest lake on Titan, with associated river channels. Credit: NASA / JPL / USGS

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is in many ways one of the most Earth-like places in the solar system. More like a planet than most moons, it is the only other world, so far anyway, known to have lakes on its surface. Similar to the hydrological cycle on Earth, the lakes are filled by rain, which also creates rivers and streams. Titan, however, is much colder than Earth, so the liquid is methane / ethane, not water.

This discovery has made Titan one of the most fascinating destinations for further exploration. The Cassini spacecraft has increased our knowledge many-fold, but there is only so much that can be done from orbit. But now a new mission proposal may change that, one which would actually send a boat to land in one of the lakes in the northern hemisphere.

See for the full article.

Saturn and Titan pose for Cassini

Titan floats in front of Saturn as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft has returned some beautiful new images of Saturn and its largest moon Titan. The photo above shows Titan passing in front of Saturn from Cassini’s viewpoint; Saturn’s rings are seen almost edge-on with their shadows below them arcing across Saturn’s atmosphere. Simply breathtaking…

Additional images are here and the image advisory is here.


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