Saturn’s Line of Sight

Saturn’s Line of Sight

Saturn’s moon system: Iapetus, Mimas, Rhea and Tethys. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

As shown in the banner image, details observed in Saturn’s south polar region demonstrate that this area is far from featureless. Lighter colored clouds dot the entire region, which is dominated by a central, sharply-defined circular feature. Movie sequences in which these features are captured and followed will allow wind speeds in the polar region to be measured.

This image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s narrow angle camera on May 20, 2004, from a distance of 22 million kilometers (13.7 million miles) from Saturn through a filter centered at 750 nanometers. The image scale is 131 kilometers (81 miles) per pixel. Contrast in the image was enhanced and magnified to aid visibility.

On July 12, the Cassini spacecraft emerged from behind the Sun after being in a week-long solar conjunction since July 5. The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired from the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone tracking station near Barstow, Calif., on July 12. The spacecraft is in excellent health and operating normally.

Just before Cassini began its transit behind the Sun, it snapped pictures (right) of Saturn’s moons: Mimas, Tethys, Rhea and Iapetus.

Solar conjunction occurs when the Sun is between the spacecraft and Earth. During this time, the spacecraft conducts only limited science observations. Command and downlink capability is reduced to a minimum, with an uplink command file consisting of 10 commands sent every five minutes, 10 to 20 times a day. The purpose of this test is to assess the spacecraft’s ability to receive commands from Earth when the signal path goes so close to the Sun.

Related Web Pages

Saturn Edition, Astrobiology Magaz.
Saturn’s Rings in UV
Cassini Closes In on Saturn

Saturn– JPL Cassini Main Page
Lord of the Rings
Space Science Institute, Imaging Team Boulder, Colorado
Saturn: The Closest Pass
Voyager Image Query Form
David Seal’s JPL site -Solar System Simulator
Gregory Benford’s 1970 Essay ‘View From Titan’