Psychedelic Saturn

This image of Saturn was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on December 13, 2006 at a distance of approximately 822,000 kilometers (511,000 miles) from the planet. The image of Saturn and its rings is composed of several images captured by Cassini’s wide-angle camera using spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728, 752 and 890 nanometers.

On the right side of the image Saturn’s rings are visible in blue. Saturn’s rings are extraordinarily thin, though they’re 250,000 km or more in diameter (20 times or more the diameter of the Earth) they’re no more than 1.5 kilometers thick. The rings are composed of a large amount of particles which are made primarily of silica rock, iron oxide, and ice particles ranging in size from grains of dust to the size of small cars.

The Cassini–Huygens joint NASA/ESA/ASI (U.S., European and Italian Space Agencies) unmanned space mission was sent to study Saturn and its moons on October 15, 1997.The spaceship entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004 and six months later deployed the Huygens probe which examined the clouds, atmosphere, and surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan. Until now the Cassini spacecraft discovered and confirmed 4 new satellites of Saturn and provided stunning images of the giant planets and is expected to continue until its primary mission ends in 2008 when the spacecraft will complete 74 orbits around the planet.

More information on the Cassini–Huygens can be found on NASA’s Cassini webpage.