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.
2007 December 29
Explanation: Known for its bright ring system and many moons, gas giant Saturn looks strange and unfamiliar in this false-colour view from the Cassini spacecraft. In fact, in this Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) mosaic the famous rings are almost invisible, seen edge-on cutting across picture centre. The most striking contrast in the image is along the terminator or boundary between night and day. To the right (day side) blue-green hues are visible sunlight reflected from Saturn's cloud tops. But on the left (night side) in the absence of sunlight, the lantern-like glow of infrared radiation from the planet's warm interior silhouettes features at Saturn's deeper cloud levels.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.