Jupiter and Saturn

Cassini shot this natural-light composite image of Saturn on November 9, 2003 while en route to the ringed planet. It is viewing Saturn from 111 million kilometers away.

Courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

The Cassini spacecraft is currently speeding toward Saturn with a scheduled arrival date of July 1, 2004. And like any traveler set to complete a long journey, the spacecraft is looking ahead to its goal. Here we see that the destination is well within reach. The image at right was taken on November 9th when Cassini was 111 million kilometers (69 million miles) away from the ringed planet. The true-color mosaic hints at the amazing detail the spacecraft will uncover as it approaches ever closer to its new home. Once in orbit around Saturn, Cassini will resolve the structure and nature of the Saturnian rings in exquisite detail.

Despite all the anticipation for the future, Cassini hasn't forgotten where it has been. When it flew past Jupiter in December 2000, the craft shot images that rivaled Galileo and Voyager in clarity. This natural-color mosaic of 27 images (left) resolves features as small as 60 kilometers (37 miles) across. Because of the Sun angle, Jupiter appears near quarter phase.


You must be logged in to post a comment.