New NASA Cassini photograph shows Saturn’s beautiful rings

Oct 2, 2012
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New NASA Cassini photograph shows Saturn’s beautiful rings

Of all the planets, one of the most beautiful is Saturn. Saturn's giant ring system is one of the most stunning sites in our solar system. NASA has released a new image taken by its Cassini spacecraft that shows the southern side of Saturn along with the planet's ring system. The photograph appears black and white because it was taken in near-infrared.

NASA states that the photograph was taken 14° under the ring plane and is looking towards the unlit side of the planet's rings. When the photograph was taken, Cassini was about 2.9 million kilometers from Saturn. Somewhere hiding in the photograph is one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus.

The moon may be the tiny white dot in the bottom left corner of the photograph. Saturn has over 60 moons, and Enceladus is covered in ice. Some scientists believe that this moon, in particular, has one of the best chances of harboring extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. The moon is believed to have a liquid ocean of water below its surface ice and it is believed to generate a large amount of internal heat.

The internal heat of the planet is thought to power geysers that are known to erupt at the southern polar regions of the moon. Cassini discovered those geysers in 2005. Cassini launched in 1997 and arrived to study Saturn in 2004. The spacecraft mission is expected to last until 2017 or longer.

[via SMH]


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