December really has arrived, and that means that the year is racing to a close. Continuing last year's tradition, I'm counting the days to the New Year with an advent calendar, where each "door" opens onto a global image of a different world in the solar system.
The Cassini Raw Images Website always offers rewards to the browser. This evening I found the raw images necessary to create this color composite, showing the hazy orange moon Titan, the mid-sized icy moon Dione, and the tiny rock Prometheus all at the same time.
A couple of weeks ago Paul Schenk posted a few really cool videos to his personal blog. Paul's subspecialty is the topography of icy moons, and he's been doing a lot of work on the moons of Saturn lately.
Over the last couple of days Cassini flew past Enceladus, Tethys and Dione, so there are lots of treats to see on the raw images website! You should go check it out for yourself, but here are a couple of real favorites.
The Saturn system is always in motion, always changing. Saturn itself is a gas giant, with swirling storms, and like the other gas giants it has a host of moons flying around, perturbing each other's motions. And then there's the rings.
Every time Cassini gets reasonably close to one of the moons of Saturn, whether the close approach is a targeted one or just an opportunistic encounter, its planners usually take advantage of the proximity to take a bunch of photos.
A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the "Martian Moment in Time" photo that Opportunity took last week in a really nice writeup. I'm so grateful, and still a little surprised, that the folks on the Mars Exploration Rover mission took this idea and ran with it!
Wow, this is a cool paper. Here's the gist: the Cassini RADAR team has spotted some river channels on Titan that shine so brightly in radar images, there must be something special going on to explain that brightness.