Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2002 November 4
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Cassini Approaches Saturn
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SWRI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Cassini, a robot spacecraft launched in 1997 by NASA, is close enough now to resolve many rings and moons of its destination planet: Saturn. The spacecraft has closed to about two Earth-Sun separations from the ringed giant. Last month, Cassini snapped several images during an engineering test. These images have been combined into the contrast-enhanced color composite pictured above. Saturn's rings and cloud-tops are visible on the far right, while Titan, its largest moon, is visible as the speck on the lower left. When arriving at Saturn in July 2004, the Cassini orbiter will begin to circle and study the Saturnian system. Several months later, a probe named Huygens will separate and attempt to land on the surface of Titan.

Tomorrow's picture: Night of the Falling Stars

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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