Skip navigation
Help

Cassini–Huygens

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/sayforward.com/subdomains/recorder/httpdocs/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.
Original author: 
WSJ Staff

NASA released a false-color image of one of the first close-up views of a massive hurricane churning above Saturn's north pole today.

0
Your rating: None

This is an image of Saturn showing its rings and the shadows of the rings below, but also of Titan and Prometheus. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, looks small here, pictured to the right the giant Saturn in this Cassini spacecraft view. Can you find the moon Prometheus (only 53 miles across)? It appears as a tiny white speck above the rings in the far upper right of the image.

The dozens of icy moons orbiting Saturn vary drastically in shape, size, surface age and origin. Some of these worlds have hard, rough surfaces, while others are porous bodies coated in a fine blanket of icy particles. Some, like Dione and Tethys, show evidence of tectonic activity, where forces from within ripped apart their surfaces. Some appear to have formed billions of years ago, while others, like Janus and Epimetheus, might have originally been part of larger bodies. The study and comparison of these moons tells scientists about the history of the Saturn System and the solar system. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 5, 2012.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

0
Your rating: None

Now that the final space shuttle has landed, many thousands involved with it have lost their jobs, and budget cuts loom, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the other projects NASA has been working on recently, and what will be keeping the agency busy in the coming years. There has been a flurry of discoveries and firsts just this year alone, as scientists have discovered a fourth moon around Pluto, and a spacecraft has entered orbit around the asteroid Vesta for the first time. Earlier this month the spacecraft Juno launched toward Jupiter, while workers prepared the next Mars rover, Curiosity, for launch by the end of this year. All of this on top of supporting existing missions to the sun, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Saturn and more. Collected here is just a small recent sampling of NASA's far-reaching projects and missions. [33 photos]

Rising from fire and smoke, NASA's Juno planetary probe, enclosed in its payload fairing, launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Leaving from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on August 5, 2011, the spacecraft will embark on a five-year journey to Jupiter. The solar-powered spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere and investigate the existence of a solid planetary core. (NASA/Scott Andrews)

0
Your rating: None

NASA’s latest high tech spacecraft, launched Friday August 5th, 2011 aboard an Atlas V rocket, is named after the Greek and Roman goddess Juno. Juno was able to peer through the veil of clouds that her husband, Jupiter, drew around himself to hide his mischief. Over a cycle of 33 orbits, Juno will pass over Jupiter’s north and south poles, allowing the first close-up looks at the bright auroras there.

Juno will cover the distance from Earth to the moon–about 250,000 miles in less than one day’s time. However, scientists will have to wait another five years for Juno to complete the journey to Jupiter. With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms its own miniature solar system. Once Juno is in orbit around Jupiter, it will use its collection of eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant’s obscuring cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core. In order to survive the powerful radiation surrounding Jupiter, Juno’s instruments are protected inside a titanium vault. This radiation will eventually degrade the electronics, and the spacecraft will be sent crashing into the planet.

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera on NASA’s older Cassini spacecraft during its closest approach to the giant planet at a distance of approximately 6.2 million miles. It is the most detailed global color portrait of Jupiter ever produced; the smallest visible features are approximately 37 miles across. The mosaic is composed of 27 images, and each of those locations was imaged in red, green, and blue to provide true color. Although Cassini’s camera can see more colors than humans can, Jupiter’s colors in this view look close to the way the human eye would see them. Over an hour was required for this portrait. Jupiter rotated during this time, so the face and the lighting on its moving clouds, were changing. In order to assemble a seamless mosaic, each image was first digitally re-positioned to reflect the planet’s appearance at the instant the first exposure was taken. Then, the lighting variation across each image was removed, and the mosaic was re-illuminated by a computer-generated ‘Sun’ from a direction that allowed all imaged portions to appear in sunlight at once.

0
Your rating: None

The largest and most intense storm on Saturn observed by NASA’s Voyager or Cassini spacecraft has been captured in false color image from Cassini’s cameras (below). The storm, currently still active, encircles the giant planet, encompassing an area eight times the surface area of earth. The colors highlight clouds at different altitudes. Clouds that appear blue here are the highest, those that are yellow and bright are clouds at high altitudes, those shown green are intermediate clouds. Red and brown colors are clouds at low altitude, and the deep blue color is a thin haze with no clouds below. The base of the clouds, where lightning is generated, is probably in the water cloud layer of Saturn’s atmosphere. The image is a mosaic of 84 images taken with a narrow angle camera, over a period of about five hours, covering 33 miles per pixel.

This true-color picture (below), captured on Feb. 25, 2011, was taken about three months after the storm began. Already the clouds had formed a tail that encircled the planet. The storm’s tail, which appears as slightly blue clouds south and west (left) of the storm head, can be seen encountering the storm head in this view. Cassini’s wide angle camera looked toward the sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane for this image. Carolyn Porco, the Cassini Imaging Team Leader, bubbles over in her Captain’s Log on July 6th, 2011:

“One might think that after years in orbit around Saturn, we are now accustomed to great big happenings and fantastic spectacles. But far from it. It is the shock of the unexpected, the intense mind-grabbing, eye-popping, soul-stirring thrill of seeing the unseen that gets us every time. And, as all of you well know, that is what this glorious, history-making exploration of Saturn and its magnificent realm is all about.”

Scientists do not know why Saturn stores energy for decades and releases it all at once. For example, Jupiter and Earth have numerous storms going on at all times. The Cassini imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany, with the imaging operations center based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. For more information and photography from Cassini, click here. All photography courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

0
Your rating: None