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.

November 5, 1998
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Natural Saturn On The Cassini Cruise
Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA)

Explanation: What you could see approaching Saturn aboard an interplanetary cruise ship would closely resemble this subtly shaded view of the gorgeous ringed gas giant. Processed by the Hubble Heritage project, the picture intentionally avoids overemphasizing color contrasts and presents a natural looking Saturn with cloud bands, storms, nearly edge-on rings, and the small round shadow of the moon Enceladus near the center of the planet's disk. Of course, seats were not available on the only ship currently enroute - the Cassini spacecraft, launched just over a year ago and scheduled to arrive at Saturn in the year 2004. After an extended cruise to a world 1,400 million kilometers from the Sun, Cassini will tour the Saturnian system, conducting a remote, robotic exploration with software and instruments designed by denizens of planet Earth.

Tomorrow's picture: Cutaway Callisto

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.