Saturn in all its glory

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Cool image time. The Cassini science team have released a beautiful full-color image of Saturn, shown cropped on the right, as well as a movie, both produced from images taken in April.

This view shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. Saturn’s year is nearly 30 Earth years long, and during its long time there, Cassini has observed winter and spring in the north, and summer and fall in the south. The spacecraft will complete its mission just after northern summer solstice, having observed long-term changes in the planet’s winds, temperatures, clouds and chemistry.

Cassini scanned across the planet and its rings on April 25, 2016, capturing three sets of red, green and blue images to cover this entire scene showing the planet and the main rings. The images were obtained using Cassini’s wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 1.9 million miles (3 million kilometers) from Saturn and at an elevation of about 30 degrees above the ring plane. The view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from a sun-Saturn-spacecraft angle, or phase angle, of 55 degrees. Image scale on Saturn is about 111 miles (178 kilometers) per pixel.

The exposures used to make this mosaic were obtained just prior to the beginning of a 44-hour movie sequence.

The only real tragedy here is that the Cassini mission is ending soon. When it does, it will be decades, at a minimum, before we have another spacecraft in orbit around Saturn and capable of giving us this view.

Update: NASA today issued a press release detailing what will happen during Cassini’s final year at Saturn, including 22 plunges between Saturn and its rings!


  • Cotour

    I worked many years ago for an electrical contractor in the Museum Of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium (before the cube) we did a lot of work there and I have been all over those buildings (it was heaven). In the basement under the Planetarium was the artist studio. The head artist (a German name which I forget) would work on fantastic highly detailed paintings depicting things like Saturn and other planets for various displays.

    As good as he was, these pictures are soo beautiful that they almost seem fake. I wonder if he saw them would he be amazed that he does not have to paint them any more?

  • D K Rögnvald Williams


  • wayne

    Cotour– very cool working in the Museum and Planetarium!
    and yes– these pics are fantastical!

    D K– I’ve had similar thoughts as well, on occasion.

  • Joe

    Beutiful images of a gas giant,, it’s rotational speed gives these images of much more speed than is actual, the mechanic in me wants to know the purpose of these outlying planets, something that is not possible to know.

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