Saturday, October 21, 2006

Update on Cassini - NASA/JPL

Target: Tethys
October 19, 2006
Full-Res: PIA08291

Tethys has a crater-saturated surface, where older, larger basins have been completely overprinted by newer, smaller impacts. This state is what scientists expect to see on a very old surface, where small impactors have struck more frequently than larger ones over several billion years. Larger impacts were more common events in the early history of the solar system.

This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across). North is up. The great scar of Ithaca Chasma is seen at right.

The view was captured in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 25, 2006 at a distance of approximately 449,000 kilometers (279,000 miles) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 49 degrees. Image scale is 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.

Saturn's B ring
Light From a Flickering Star
October 16, 2006
Full-Res: PIA08281

The Cassini spacecraft looks through the dense B ring toward a distant star in an image from a recent stellar occultation observation. These observations point the camera toward a star whose brightness is well known. Then, as Cassini watches the rings pass in front, the star's light fluctuates, providing information about the concentrations of ring particles within the various radial features in the rings.

This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 35 degrees above the ringplane. The star's image is partly saturated, causing the vertical lines that extend up and down.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 26, 2006 at a distance of approximately 543,000 kilometers (338,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 106 degrees. Image scale is about 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.

Half-lit Enceladus
October 12, 2006
Full-Res: PIA08286

A world whose mysteries are just coming to light, Enceladus has enchanted scientists and non-scientists alike. With its potential for near-surface liquid water, the icy moon may be the latest addition to the list of possible abodes for life.

The view was acquired about two-and-a-half hours after A Folded Surface, during an encounter with Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across).

The image was taken using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of polarized ultraviolet light. The Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera acquired the view on Sept. 9, 2006 at a distance of approximately 141,000 kilometers (877,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 96 degrees. Image scale is 850 meters (0.5 mile) per pixel.

Lakes on Titan
Lakes and More lakes
October 12, 2006
Full-Res: PIA01943

In this image taken by the Cassini radar system, a previously unseen style of lakes is revealed. The lakes here assume complex shapes and are among the darkest seen so far on Titan.

The lake at the left is reminiscent both in form and scale of the flooded drainage system, Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona. However, the Titan lake has been filled with liquid methane and ethane rather than water. In the lake at right, older terrain may have been deeply cut by river valleys before it was flooded by the embaying lake. For a different radar view from the same flyby see Titan's Great Lakes? .

This radar image was acquired Oct. 9, 2006, and is centered near 80 degrees north latitude, 357 degrees west longitude. It measures about 310 kilometers by 100 kilometers (190 miles by 62 miles). Smallest details in this image are about 500 meters (1,640 feet) across.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the United States and several European countries.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit

Credit: NASA/JPL


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