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Saturn Still the Focus of Cassini Saturn Still the Focus of Cassini

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Saturn Still the Focus of Cassini

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
September 9, 2011

It's a relatively old image, but stunning nevertheless.

NASA made the first photo below, its Sept. 4 "Astronomy Picture of the Day." Although the photo was from 2006, several media outlets picked it up as a new photo, according to ABC News.

The photo was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and has been studying Saturn and its moons since 2004, including dropping a probe that landed on Saturn's moon Titan.

Below are some photos selected from the tens of thousands Cassini has taken since arriving at Saturn. The mission is planned to continue through 2017. 

The Cassini spacecraft in 2006 drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw the night side of Saturn, which is partly lit by light reflected from its own ring system. The rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn, slightly scattering sunlight, in this exaggerated color image. Far in the distance, at the left, just above the bright main rings, is Earth.(Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)

This view of Saturn, its rings and the moon Tethys represents "Target 1" in the fall 2009 edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day contest. The contest is designed to give students a taste of life as a scientist by challenging them to write an essay describing the value of one target choice among three for Cassini to image.(NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Clouds swirl about in Saturn's active atmosphere. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 29, 2008, at a distance of about 794,000 miles from Saturn.(NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)


The moon Mimas emerges from behind hazy Saturn. The rings appear distorted near the planet as their image passes through the upper atmosphere. The limb of Mimas is slightly flattened on the left side by the rim of the large crater Herschel.(NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

In this view captured by Cassini's closest-ever flyby of Saturn's moon Mimas, the large Herschel Crater dominates moon, making the moon look like the Death Star in the movie "Star Wars." The Crater is 80 miles wide and covers most of the right of this image.(NASA/JPL/SSI)

Cassini obtained this image of Saturn's moon Helene on June 18, 2011. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)


Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the larger, hazy moon in the background of this Oct. 18, 2010, image. Tethys is the bright icy moon in the foreground. The rings of Saturn faintly etch the top of this image.(NASA/JPL/SSI)

The surface of the Saturn moon Titan in a photo taken by the Huygens probe, which was dropped to the moon's surface by the Cassini spacecraft in 2005.(ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Just beneath the ringplane is the moon Janus, which is just 113 miles across, and the moon Prometheus, which is 63 miles across and on the far side of the rings.(NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)


Craters imprinted upon other craters record the long history of impacts endured by Saturn's moon Rhea. This view looks toward the mid-southern latitudes of the Saturn-facing side of Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across). North on Rhea is up. The 2009 image was taken in visible light.(NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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