It's hard to believe that NASA's Cassini spacecraft has already been orbiting Saturn for 3½ years. And it started taking pictures long before it got there.
Thanks to Cassini, we've come to appreciate the Saturnian system in a whole new way. Sure, the scientists who built its experiments have reaped mountains of discoveries. But they haven't forgotten those of us out here in the bleacher seats. The hundreds of postcard-perfect images they've made available to the public underscore how incredibly beautiful Saturn, its rings, and its family of satellites are.
So let's show our appreciation. The staff at CICLOPS, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, is marking the close of another year at Saturn by running a contest for the most popular images taken by Cassini's cameras since arriving at Saturn. There are separate categories for best color image, best black-and-white image, and best movie.
And you won't have to slog through thousands of images either. The CICLOPS team has narrowed the field to a manageable handful of each type. The voting ends at midnight on December 30th, Mountain Standard Time, and they'll post the results the next day. According to team leader Carolyn Porco, "Three lucky people among the entrants will win a printed poster of the winning color image or an image of their choice."
I've already picked my favorites. Which ones are yours?