A few weeks ago a producer for a public television space documentary asked me if I knew of any cool Cassini animations and my answer was, "Ooh, what a great excuse to have some fun digging around in the Cassini data archives." Here is the most fun animation I came up with in response to the request.
I've got some lovely pictures from Saturn to show you! Every three months, the Cassini mission dumps gigabytes worth of precious Saturn data into the Planetary Data System, and the latest gift came on April 1. This particular pile of data, which was taken between April 1 and June 30, 2010, contains a lot of really terrific moon observations.
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.
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.
The Cassini Saturn orbiter just completed its second very close flyby of Saturn's mid-sized iceball moon Dione, and the images from that encounter have been streaming onto the Cassini raw images website this morning.
NASA has just announced that once Cassini's Equinox Mission runs out in June of this year, they will extend it a further seven more years, long enough for the spacecraft to see Saturn through its solstice!!