Cassini Spacecraft Witnesses Saturn's Blues

Saturn's moon Mimas against the backdrop of Saturn Mimas drifts along in its orbit against the azure backdrop of Saturn's northern latitudes in this true color image.
+ Full image/caption
  • submit to reddit

February 08, 2005

Colorful new images from the Cassini spacecraft show that Saturn's northern hemisphere has a case of the blues.

In the first image, the icy moon Mimas is set against a dazzling and dramatic portrait of Saturn's azure northern hemisphere and the shadows of its rings. A second image shows Saturn's northern polar region is a dim blue.

The new images are available at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://ciclops.org.

The blue color of Saturn's northern latitudes may to be linked to the apparently cloud-free nature of the upper atmosphere there. A precise understanding of the phenomenon may come from further study by Cassini imaging scientists.

In the first of these colorful views, Mimas moves in its orbit against the blue backdrop of Saturn's atmosphere, which is draped by sweeping shadows cast by the rings. A few large craters are visible on Mimas, giving the icy moon a dimpled appearance.

The second view shows Saturn's northern polar region, where shadows cast by the rings surrounding the pole appear as dark bands. The ring shadows at higher latitudes correspond to locations on the ring plane that are farther from the planet - in other words, the northernmost ring shadow in this view is cast by the outer edge of Saturn's A ring. Spots of bright clouds also are visible throughout the region.

The view of Saturn and Mimas was taken by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow angle camera on Jan. 18, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Saturn. The view of Saturn's northern polar region was taken with Cassini's wide angle camera on Dec. 14, 2004, at a distance of 719,200 kilometers (446,900 miles) from Saturn.

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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Heidi Finn (720) 974-5859
Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

2005-023

Images

Saturn's northern hemisphere in natural color

Saturn's northern hemisphere is presently a serene blue as seen in this natural color image from Cassini.
+ Full image/caption

enlarge image



This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring NASA Mars Spacecraft Prepare for Close Comet Flyby

› Read more

Rotating Shape Model of Rosetta's Comet Target Surface impressions of Rosetta's comet

› Read more

The Space Between: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 NASA Voyager Statement About Solar Wind Models

› Read more


Get JPL Updates
Sign Up for JPL UpdatesRegister today and receive up-to-the-minute e-mail alerts delivered directly to your inbox.
Sign Up for JPL Updates