Saturn: Good and Great

The Cassini imaging team (CICLOPS) are light years astronomical units ahead of everyone else when it comes to releasing gorgeous images of other worlds to the public, however it must be said that they don't release as many colour images as they could - you know, if they weren't busy doing science and all that stuff. As what I consider to be the chief testament to NASA's coolness, however, raw images from all their unmanned missions are released into the public domain via the Internet. That way, image gurus like Gordan Ugarkovic can assemble colour pictures wherever the data exists (albeit after a nine month period where CICLOPS have the exclusive).

Gordan's latest such composite is the most recent image featured on Riding with Robots, and you must drop everything you are doing and click this link to view it now - preferably taking a deep breath beforehand in preparation for any exclamations you may wish to utter. This colour, animated image shows the Saturnian system in motion over a period of about an hour, as Saturn spins on its axis and Titan and Dione orbit around it. Unspeakably nifty.

The Cassini team themselves have meanwhile published an article in Nature detailing their research into the origin of Saturn's mysterious G ring.

Unlike Saturn's other dusty rings, such as the E and F rings, the G ring is not associated closely with moons that either could supply material directly to it -- as Enceladus does for the E ring -- or sculpt and perturb its ring particles -- as Prometheus and Pandora do for the F ring. The location of the G ring continued to defy explanation, until now.

Read the news article here. You can also view a movie of the 'arc' in the G ring here. It seems that relatively large chunks of ice exist in this arc, producing the particles that make up the G ring when they are struck by micrometeoroids.


Bobby said...

I knew a guy who worked as a photographer for NASA. He worked on the eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. He would shoot launches and also US Airforce stuff. One time he was shooting this retirement ceremony for an Airforce general. It was back when they were still using film all the time. He was shooting away shooting away the gathering crowd the stuff running up to the general taking the stage. Then he ran out of film. And he’s right there in the middle of everybody – all the officials and military brass and so on. …so he kept clicking away with his camera – even though he was out of film. He was too embarrassed – he had to continue to act like he was shooting. Then they just ended up using some stock photo of the general. Funny.

Pacian said...


I think everyone's done something vaguely similar to that, if not on quite the same scale.