The breathtaking new view of Saturn and its rings



  •  Image was taken by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft after engineers positioned it inside the planet's shadow
  • Stunning mosaic is made up of 60 different images all captured on October 17th



Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been in in orbit around Saturn for more than eight years, has taken its most stunning view of the planet yet.
Engineers painstakingly positioned the craft on Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, to take the image.
It was deliberately positioned within Saturn’s shadow, a perfect location from which to look in the direction of the Sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet.
 Looking back towards the Sun is a geometry referred to by planetary scientists as 'high solar phase'.
This is a very scientifically advantageous and coveted viewing position as it can reveal details about both the rings and atmosphere that cannot be seen in lower solar phase.
'Of all the many glorious images we have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those taken from Saturn’s shadow,' said Carolyn Porco, Cassini’s imaging team lead based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
 'They unveil a rare splendor seldom seen anywhere else in our solar system.'
The mosaic released does not contain Earth.
Along with the Sun, our planet is hidden behind Saturn.
However, it was taken when Cassini was closer to Saturn and therefore shows more detail in the rings than the one taken in 2006.
The new mosaic is composed of 60 images taken in the violet, visible and near infrared part of the spectrum and processed in false color.
Also captured in this image are two of Saturn's moons: Enceladus and Tethys, and both appear on the left side of the planet, below the rings.
Enceladus is closer to the rings; Tethys is below and to the left.
The last time Cassini had such an unusual perspective on Saturn and its rings, at sufficient distance and with sufficient time to make a full system mosaic, occurred in September 2006 when it captured a mosaic, processed to look like natural color, entitled 'In Saturn’s Shadow-The Pale Blue Dot'  In that mosaic, planet Earth put in a special appearance, making “In Saturn’s Shadow” one of the most popular Cassini images to date.
 

 

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