Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2000 January 29
Explanation: What could you see approaching Saturn aboard an interplanetary cruise ship? Your view would likely resemble this subtly shaded image of the gorgeous ringed gas giant. Processed by the Hubble Heritage project, the picture intentionally avoids overemphasizing colour contrasts and presents a natural looking Saturn with cloud bands, storms, nearly edge-on rings, and the small round shadow of the moon Enceladus near the centre of the planet's disk. Of course, seats were not available on the only ship currently enroute - the Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997 and scheduled to arrive at Saturn in the year 2004. After an extended cruise to a world 1,400 million kilometres from the Sun, Cassini will tour the Saturnian system, conducting a remote, robotic exploration with software and instruments designed by denizens of planet Earth. But where is Cassini now? Still about 980 million kilometres from Saturn, last Sunday the spacecraft flew by asteroid 2685 Masursky.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.