Cassini Team Shows Some Color

NASA released an unusually large amount of color images to the Cassini website recently. Most of what is shown here on this site are actually images put together by freelance imagers who access the raw files and do some stitching together of filtered images. Color images coming straight off the Cassini website are a rare event, so when about 8 appeared in the gallery a few days ago… it was an unexpected gift. The Unlit Saturn Saturn as seen from the unlit side of the rings.

The Saturn System A family portrait of the Saturn System. Moons visible in this image (you need to click the preview) are Dione at far left, Enceladus near the left side ring edge, Mimas a speck on ring shadows on the western limb, Rhea against the northern hemisphere, Tethys near the right ring edge, and Titan near lower right.

Titan, Epimethius and the RIngs Titan and a small moonlet named Epimetheus share the frame with Saturn’s rings.

Titan on the Edge A rare color view of both Saturn and Titan in one frame. This is the only one of its kind thus far in the mission.

Rainbow in the Rings A small rainbow appears as sunlight streams through Saturn’s rings.

Atlas, Ringsweeper!

Atlas, Ringsweeper

I tend to not get many of the small bodies in here simply due to the fact that they tend to not be geologically active, are grey in color and lack the grandeur of size. But here is a tiny moon that orbits just outside Saturn’s A-ring and is only about 40 by 20 kilometers in size. What makes this tiny body notable to me, is its shape which many assume is due to the collection of ring particles upon its surface.

As the rings of Saturn are so very flat, the materials all appear to have collected all along Atlas’s equator and as this material piles up it elongates the shape of the moon. This has erased any craters that may have existed on the tiny moon and created one of the Solar System’s more unusual surface features. The piled up equator of Atlas looks more like it is covered with snow and has ultimately given us our first naturally formed flying saucer (see inset side view). You can almost see the truly original form of Atlas somewhere in the middle hidden by the massive amounts of “ring-fall” over its many ages.

Image Processors on Flickr: Gordan Ugarkovic

Gordan Ugarkovic has a great collection of reworked Cassini images on Flickr. I contacted Gordan about showing some of his images here on wanderingspace and he was ever so gracious. As many people Gordan is “somewhat underwhelmed by the frequency the Cassini Imaging Team releases color composites”, so it is up to excellent freelancers like him to compile this information from the data files which are made public by NASA. Problem is that these images rarely make it to the mass media and we are stuck with the dozen or so color images the NASA imaging teams decide to produce in a year. Wallpaper: Europa and the Eye of Jupiter

Wallpaper: Saturn’s Rings and Three Moons

WALLPAPER NOTE: The left 1/3 of the “Three Moons” image was extended in Photoshop using data at the edges of the original image which was cropped to a square format. This “fake” imagery was only applied to that area of the rings and the rest of the image including the moons is actual.

Here are some other images from Gordan which are some of my favorites, but don’t trust my editing… go to the gallery and have a look yourself. For the sake of posterity I have added a permanent link to his gallery on the right side of this blog where you may note that there are already a few others linked. There were two additional ones but the sites have been taken down since I linked to them?! Hopefully the three left will stick around for a while and I will in time add more to the collection.

Tethys on a Hazy Limb

Tethys and Saturn’s Hazy Limb

Mimas and Promethius on Rings

Mimas and Prometheus on Rings

Io on Jupiters Edge

Io on Jupiters Edge

Wallpaper: Janus

Janus with Backdrop SaturnA tiny moon named Janus with a back drop of Saturn’s cloud-tops. There is not much to say about this tiny place other than the odd nature of its shared orbit with another tiny moon named Epimetheus. About once every four years they approach one another and swap orbits without coming any closer than 10,000km.

IMAGE NOTE: The image original was black and white and color was added based upon numerous images of Saturn’s cloud-tops. As with many tiny moons, the black and white nature of Janus was just maintained as it is not expected to have looked any different in color.