Friday, December 29, 2006

In Saturn's Shadow

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.
This is a really cool, actual photo of Saturn and Earth. Oh, you can see Earth, by the way, about 10 o'clock just outside the bright white rings. You can see medium-res images from the JPL site: color-exaggerated version and the original image. Chris Drost also put up a 1280×1024 version with touched-up colors, if you're into that...

If you want really large, hi-res images, see

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