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.

2000 October 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Cassini Spacecraft Approaches Jupiter
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA

Explanation: A new spacecraft has entered the outer Solar System: Cassini. Launched in 1997 and bound for Saturn in 2004, Cassini sent back the above image last week while approaching the giant planet Jupiter. Cassini joins the Galileo spacecraft currently in orbit around Jupiter in studying the gas giant and its moons. In fact, observations involving both spacecraft simultaneously are planned in the coming months. This color picture was taken when Cassini was 81.3 million kilometers from Jupiter. The alternating dark and bright bands characteristic of Jupiter's cloud tops can be easily seen. Jupiter's moon Europa is also seen at the far right of the image casting a round shadow on the planet.

Tomorrow's picture: HETE

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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.