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.

2003 December 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Cassini Approaches Saturn
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, 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 now closed to within a single Earth-Sun separation from the ringed giant. Early last month, Cassini snapped the contrast-enhanced color composite pictured above. Many features of Saturn's rings and cloud-tops now show considerable detail. 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: galaxy tales

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