NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Delivers Beautiful Photos of Saturn and Its Moons

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Delivers Beautiful Photos of Saturn and Its Moons

The Cassini imaging team released nine stunning images of Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus to remind us of the beauty of space this holiday season.

NASA's Cassini imaging team shared some beautiful images of Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus for the holidays. The Cassini orbiter has been exploring the Saturn system since 1997, and is expected to continue to deliver gorgeous images and groundbreaking science until 2017. In the release from NASA, Cassini imaging team leader Carolyn Porco says, "During this, our tenth holiday season at Saturn, we hope that these images from Cassini remind everyone the world over of the significance of our discoveries in exploring such a remote and beautiful planetary system."

You can make a strong case for Saturn as the most beautiful planet in our solar system. The gas giant's spectacular rings make it instantly recognizable, though Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have ring systems. At Saturn's north pole its fascinating hexangonal cloud pattern, and at its south pole it boasts a hurricane-like storm wider than Earth that may be billions of years old. Its largest moon, Titan, has been the subject of intense study and speculation. Titan is the only object other than Earth (that we know of) with stable bodies of liquid on its surface. Larger than the planet Mercury, Titan is the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere, made up largely of nitrogen.

Enceladus, Saturn's sixth-largest moon, is an icy ball that may be the best place to look for extraterrestrial life. Like Jupiter's moon Europa, Enceladus is believed to have liquid water under its surface, but the surface ice on Enceladus is believed to be much thinner than the ice on Europa. Icy volcanoes at the poles jet water vapor and other gases out from Enceladus, falling back to the surface as snow or joining Saturn's rings as ice particles. Nearly everything we know about these objects is a result of the Cassini mission.

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 manages the mission for NASA.

Source: NASA

Permalink

The Saturn hexagon: Proof that nature once in a while just wants to screw with our minds.

Science and spatial nature keeps reinventing awesome, one solar revolution at a time.

Wow, those are some breathtaking pictures. Way to go NASA, keep being awesome!

I actually didn't know how uniformly layered the planet itself was. This is some very good work.

The Saturn system has some of the most breathtaking sights in the whole solar system.

MarlaDesat:

You can make a strong case for Saturn as the most beautiful planet in our solar system.

I have to disagree. I honestly believe Earth to be the most beautiful planet in this system.

Having said that, those photos from Cassini are stunning. What a time to live in, eh? We're the lucky few who get to see the dawn of space expiration for our species... what a privilege it is to be alive today.

Simalacrum:

I have to disagree. I honestly believe Earth to be the most beautiful planet in this system.

You could be a little biased in your choice there :P

OT: Those shots of Saturn are incredible. Why does the US government insist in not giving NASA the money it deserves?

Somethingfake:
OT: Those shots of Saturn are incredible. Why does the US government insist in not giving NASA the money it deserves?

Partial logic in that space travel is, at this very time, more idealistic than pragmatic, and that funding to more realistic ventures is more encouraged.

Partial unlogic in that most of that money usually gets funneled to politicians or an already overbloated military instead, meaning that we probably just wasted that money in the first place.

But I'm not here to talk about politics in a NASA thread. ... Please don't let it divulge into that.

Personally, Saturn's always been my favorite planet in the Solar System. Its color, while kinda bland on its own, blends well for the gas giant, and of course those rings are also great.

Uranus is a close second, if only because its upturned appearance is worth a chuckle.

I remember back when Cassini was going to launch and people learned that it had plutonium to help power it, because that far out from the sun its solar panels aren't very efficient, there were people concerned that if something happened and it blew up during launch that it might irradiate the atmosphere. Ha!

Somethingfake:

OT: Those shots of Saturn are incredible. Why does the US government insist in not giving NASA the money it deserves?

Because politically it's difficult - it would be easy to get voted out of office by your constituents if you're seen as spending money that could instead go to people in your district/state.

Universe, Y U so beautiful and majestic?

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here