There's no question in my mind that all too often the general public — or, more pointedly, the cadre of editors and producers who decide what's news — gets saturated on the results from our various space missions. And I'll admit that even a space junkie like me has a hard time keeping up with all the gorgeous images of the solar-system and beyond that stream across my computer screen daily.

Take the Cassini mission as an example. Do you realize its imaging team has created roughly 1,500 press-release photos of Saturn and its wonderfully weird moons over the past four years? There've been many, many memorable Cassini views, stunning vistas that are truly works of art.

So last month the folks at the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, or CICLOPS, decided to have a contest to crown the best of the best. The contest is now over, and you can view the winning shots at the CICLOPS website.

Saturn in shadow

In September 2006, the Cassini orbiter observed Saturn while the spacecraft was hidden in the planet's shadow. Click here to get the scoop on how this composite was made.

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

In the "color" category, the runaway winner is a wide-angle view of Saturn and its rings taken during a total eclipse of the Sun (from Cassini's vantage). It garnered nearly 30% of all the votes. Color me surprised — while it's a great shot, it wouldn't have even been in my top three picks.

Likewise, imaging-team leader Carolyn Porco told me, "The black-and-white category was the big surprise to us, since none of us here would have chosen the ones [a two-way tie] that came out first."

In any case, let's hope Cassini continues to phone home with more of these awesome shots for years to come.


Image of David Abbou

David Abbou

January 2, 2008 at 8:42 pm

The Cassini-Huygens mission has been a huge success, and the photos from Saturn have been spectacular. The backlit photo of Saturn is certainly one of the most heautiful photos despite the lack of vivid colors.

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