NASA Saturn Probe Beams Back First Images From New Orbit

Posted: Dec 9 2016, 12:51am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA Saturn Probe Beams back first Images from new Orbit
This collage of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Each filter is sensitive to different wavelengths of light and reveals clouds and hazes at different altitudes. Clockwise from top left, the filters used are sensitive to violet (420 nanometers), red (648 nanometers), near-infrared (728 nanometers) and infrared (939 nanometers) light. Credit: NASA
 

Since beginning the latest phase of its mission, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere -- showing scenes from high above the planet's northern hemisphere, including an intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.

Cassini began its new mission phase, called its Ring-Grazing Orbits, on November 30.

Each of these weeklong orbits -- 20 in all -- carries the spacecraft high above Saturn's northern hemisphere before sending it skimming past the outer edges of the planet's main rings.

Cassini's imaging cameras acquired these latest views on December 2 and 3, about two days before the first ring-grazing approach to the planet, NASA said.

Future passes will include images from near closest approach, including some of the closest-ever views of the outer rings and small moons that orbit there.

"This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn. Let these images -- and those to come -- remind you that we've lived a bold and daring adventure around the solar system's most magnificent planet," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

The next pass by the rings' outer edges is planned for December 11. 

About this NASA Mission

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. Follow the Cassini Saturn mission on NASA.gov.

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