Awesome Photos Show Cassini's Still Got What It Takes to Amaze

Awesome Photos Show Cassini's Still Got What It Takes to Amaze

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover may be all the rage at the moment, but these new images of Saturn and its moon, Titan, show that the Cassini spacecraft still has what it takes to amaze eight years after it arrived in the Saturnian system.

Image Credit: NASA/Caltech-JPL/SSI

Cassini took the six images to create this mosaic on May 12, 2012 at a distance of 483,000 miles from Titan.  The image shows Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury, crossing the face of Saturn with shadows of Saturn’s rings below.    Cassini was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004 with its Huygens probe, built by the European Space Agency (ESA).    Huygens descended through Titan’s atmosphere and landed on its surface in 2005.  

Scientists recently noticed a vortex in Titan’s atmosphere that has formed over its south pole.  The vortex is visible in the lower part of this image, also taken by Cassini.

Image credit:  NASA/Caltech-JPL/SSI

More photos and information can be found on the Cassini website.

A follow-on mission to study Titan’s methane seas lost out to another Mars probe in a recent NASA competition to choose the next Discovery-class planetary exploration project.  Cassini is currently expected to operate through September 2017.   It is the second extension for the mission.   Cassini completed its initial 4-year mission in June 2008 and the first extension took it through September 2010.

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