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.
March 12, 1997
Explanation: Saturn is unusual but photogenic. The second largest planet in our Solar System, behind Jupiter, has been easily identifiable at night since history has been recorded. It was only with the invention of the telescope, however, that any evidence of its majestic ring system became apparent. Saturn itself is composed of mostly hydrogen and helium gas. Saturn's rings are composed of many ice chunks ranging in size from a penny to car. The above picture of Saturn is one of the earliest taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and is a digital reconstruction of three colour images. The Cassini mission to Saturn is scheduled to be launched later this year and should reach Saturn in 2004.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.