Ladies and gentlemen, hold my coffee while I drool over this mind-bending image of Saturn—revealing waves of clouds swirling high above the planet. The image was snapped by the Cassini spacecraft at an altitude of 750,000 miles.
It’s pure magic!
The image was snapped by the Cassini spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera which takes advantage of a combination of “spectral filters” allowing it preferentially admit different wavelengths of near-infrared light reports NASA.
This, never-before-seen image (False-color) of Saturn was recently beamed back by the Cassini spacecraft was captured using the narrow-angle camera on May 18.
NASA indicates in a report how this image is centered at 46 degrees north latitude on Saturn.
This mind-bending view of Saturn was snapped at a distance of around 1.2 million kilometers—or 750,000 miles if you prefer—from the gas giant.
NASA notes how the image scale is around 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.
If you look closely, you’ll observe how Saturn’s upper atmosphere generates a faint haze seen along the limb of the planet in this awesome image.
Cassini’s narrow-angle camera takes advantage of a combination of “spectral filters” to preferentially admit different wavelengths of near-infrared light reports NASA.
“Neighboring bands of clouds move at different speeds and directions depending on their latitudes. This generates turbulence where bands meet and leads to the wavy structure along the interfaces. Saturn’s upper atmosphere generates the faint haze seen along the limb of the planet in this image,” wrote NASA in a report.
In a month from now, Cassini will end its journey as it gets devoured by Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will continue to beam back important data and breathtaking images as it prepares to end a 20-year mission, which has helped experts not only understand Saturn’s and its moons but our solar system in general.
The spacecraft—a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency—has completed a set of 20 pole-crossing orbits between Saturn’s outer F and G rings, gathering important data about the rings, Saturn’s moons and the planet itself.
Now, mission scientists will maneuver the spacecraft into a series of ‘Grand Finale’ dives that will bring the Cassini Spacecraft closer to the gas giant than any other spacecraft has gone before.
Cassini’s long trip will help scientists to map the gas giant’s gravity and magnetic fields near the planet in unprecedented detail, revealing along the way new information about Saturn’s internal structure.
Scientists will also learn more about the age and origin of the gas giant’s rings, and the exact composition and mixture of dust and ice.
In a few weeks, the Grand Finale will take place as “Cassini will complete an epic final plunge into Saturn’s upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will turn into a fiery streak over Saturn’s skies, removing the chance of a contaminating collision with any of Saturn’s icy moons – and bringing a long, rich mission to a dramatic close,” reports NASA.