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Emily LakdawallaAugust 24, 2011

Pretty picture: Saturn from very close up

I haven't checked in on Cassini lately. I went to the raw images page and found the frames for this very lovely, very close view of Saturn. It was taken by Cassini two days ago, as it was approaching periapsis. (Periapsis is the closest approach of the spacecraft to Saturn; Cassini passed through that point about a day ago.) At the time it took this photo it was roughly at the orbital distance of Dione. Cassini's orbit now takes it as close to Saturn as the orbit of Enceladus.

Saturn from Cassini on August 22, 2011

NASA / JPL / SSI / color composite by Emily Lakdawalla

Saturn from Cassini on August 22, 2011
Cassini snapped this photo as it was approaching periapsis on Rev 152. High-altitude haze makes a blue ring around Saturn's sunlit crescent, while the rings cast a wide shadow on the southern hemisphere.

On the way out from Saturn, Cassini's going to pass reasonably close to the potato-shaped moon Hyperion tomorrow, within 25,000 kilometers, and will do a lot of imaging. Jason Perry gives a preview of what's to come in his Rev 152 Looking Ahead article:

On August 25 at 16:48 UTC, Cassini will perform a non-targeted encounter with the irregularly shaped moon, Hyperion. Cassini will pass the icy moon at a distance of 24,978 kilometers (15,520 miles). During the encounter, ISS will take several, multi-filter mosaics of the satellite. The first, three-frame mosaic covers the crescent of Hyperion as Cassini approaches. After a few CIRS scans at closest approach, ISS will acquire a multi-spectral frame over the center of the sunlit crescent followed by a four-frame mosaic. Finally, ISS will acquire another three-frame mosaic of a now gibbous Hyperion, followed by a CIRS scan, and then one last ISS multi-spectral frame consisting of 30 images using various filter combinations.

Read more: pretty pictures, Cassini, Saturn

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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