Cassini Spacecraft captures ‘unprecedented’ images of Saturn and its atmosphere
The images are unlike ANYTHING we’ve ever had the chance to see.
The Cassini spacecraft, which is traveling on a collision course into Saturn has revealed the unprecedented looks of Saturn’s rings in visible light at a distance of only 680,000 miles away.
The Spacecraft has captured the most fascinating images of Saturn’s Rings, in a view which shows the sunlit side of the rings—some 19 degrees above the plane.
The Cassini spacecraft is heading towards its final resting place. It will pass through Satruns upper atmosphere in its last five orbits before plunging into Saturn on September 15, 2017.
NASA has recently revealed jaw-dropping images some 700,000 miles above the planet showing Saturn’s banded arc, stretching out into the emptiness of space in a scene which eerily reminds us of the stunning rainbows visible on Earth.
At 1.1 million kilometers from the gas giant, Cassini took this marvelous image.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
“Although the rings lack the many colors of the rainbow, they arc across the sky of Saturn,” NASA explains.
“From equatorial locations on the planet, they’d appear very thin since they would be seen edge-on. Closer to the poles, the rings would appear much wider; in some locations (for parts of the Saturn’s year), they would even block the sun for part of each day.”
In just fifteen weeks, the Cassini spacecraft will dive into Saturn—but before it does so, the spacecraft will continue making observations, gathering data and snapping fascinating images along the way.
Scientists have revealed how Cassini has gathered ‘exciting’ data which may help understand the structure and composition of the planet’s Icy Rings.
As noted by NASA, new data from Cassini has revealed that Saturns magnetic field does not have a detectable til, which means that the exact length of a day on Saturn remains a mystery for experts.
This natural-color image by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the Saturn moon Titan’s upper atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
“The tilt seems to be much smaller than we had previously estimated and quite challenging to explain,’ said Michele Dougherty, Cassini magnetometer investigation lead at Imperial College, London. We have not been able to resolve the length of day at Saturn so far, but we’re still working on it.”
So far Cassini has captured several samples of the atmosphere of Saturn and its main rings thanks to its dust analyzer (CDA) instrument and the ion/neutral mass spectrometer (INMS).
NASA reports how Cassini’s CDA instrument gathered nanometer-sized ring particles as it crossed the planet’s rings, and the INMS instrument probed the outermost atmosphere of the planet.
AS the spacecraft continues its dive into the planet, the INMS instrument will monitor and analyze more samples deep in the planet’s atmosphere and send the data back to scientists on earth.
“Cassini is performing beautifully in the final leg of its long journey,’ said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its observations continue to surprise and delight as we squeeze out every last bit of science that we can get.”
But in addition to all of the scientific data, the spacecraft has sent us some of the most amazing views of Saturn we’ve ever seen.