Saturn’s Sailor: 20 Cassini Pictures Marking A Decade At The Ringed Planet

by Elizabeth Howell on June 30, 2014

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Saturn's northern storm marches through the planet's atmosphere in the top right of this false-color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn’s northern storm marches through the planet’s atmosphere in the top right of this false-color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

We’re spoiled, don’t you know? It was 10 years ago today that the Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn’s system, and it has been busily beaming back pictures of the ringed planet and its (many) moons ever since. We’ve learned more about seasons on Titan, investigated plumes on Enceladus, and examined phenomena such as auroras on Saturn.

Embedded in this story are 20 of our favourite pictures from Universe Today’s archive of Cassini discoveries, which you can check out below the jump.

It’s only a fraction of the more than 332,000 images received from the spacecraft, which is in excellent health and has seen its mission extended three times past its original 2008 expiry date. Additionally, more than 3,000 scientific papers have been generated. More cool stats in this NASA infographic.

And by the way, we’re not the only ones assembling memorable images to mark the anniversary. Check out NASA’s favourite Cassini pictures of the past decade, or our friend Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy list. Also, here is NASA’s opinion of the top 10 discoveries at the ringed planet.

While thinking about Cassini, also don’t forget Huygens, the lander that descended to the surface of Titan in 2005. More on that in this past Universe Today anniversary story.

The full mosaic from the Cassini imaging team of Saturn on July 19, 2013… the “Day the Earth Smiled”

The full mosaic from the Cassini imaging team of Saturn on July 19, 2013… the “Day the Earth Smiled”

In this unique mosaic image combining high-resolution data from the imaging science subsystem and composite infrared spectrometer aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft, pockets of heat appear along one of the mysterious fractures in the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI

In this unique mosaic image combining high-resolution data from the imaging science subsystem and composite infrared spectrometer aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, pockets of heat appear along one of the mysterious fractures in the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI

Saturn, imaged by Cassini on approach. Credit: CICLOPS

Saturn, imaged by Cassini on approach. Credit: CICLOPS

Titan and Dione as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Titan and Dione as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Which Planets Have Rings?

This image taken by the Cassini orbiter on Oct. 15, 2007, shows Saturn’s A and F rings, the small moon Epimetheus and smog-enshrouded Titan, the planet’s largest moon. The image is colorized to approximate the scene as it might appear to human eyes. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Credit: NASA

Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Credit: NASA

Raw image from Cassini on May 18.  Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Raw image from Cassini on May 18. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Hemispheric color differences on Saturn's moon Rhea are apparent in this false-color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This image shows the side of the moon that always faces the planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Hemispheric color differences on Saturn’s moon Rhea are apparent in this false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. This image shows the side of the moon that always faces the planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Three of Saturn's moons bunch together in this image by Cassini.  Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.  Click for larger image.

Three of Saturn’s moons bunch together in this image by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Click for larger image.

This mosaic of Titan was created from the first flyby of the moon by Cassini in 2004. Credit: NASA/JPL/SS

This mosaic of Titan was created from the first flyby of the moon by Cassini in 2004. Credit: NASA/JPL/SS

Phoebe

Phoebe imaged by the Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Cassini VIMS image of specular reflections in one of Titan's lakes from a flyby on July 24, 2012 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Jason W. Barnes et al.)

Cassini VIMS image of specular reflections in one of Titan’s lakes from a flyby on July 24, 2012 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Jason W. Barnes et al.)

A crescent Dione was seen by Cassini on January 29, 2011 from approximately 767,922 kilometers away. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

A crescent Dione was seen by Cassini on January 29, 2011 from approximately 767,922 kilometers away. Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Rhea, as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA

Rhea, as seen by Cassini. Credit: NASA

Cassini captured this startling image of Saturn's moon Hyperion. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

Cassini captured this startling image of Saturn’s moon Hyperion. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

ets of water ice particles spew from Saturn's moon Enceladus in this image obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Aug. 13, 2010. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

ets of water ice particles spew from Saturn’s moon Enceladus in this image obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Aug. 13, 2010. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

This false-color composite image shows Saturn’s rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008.  Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This false-color composite image shows Saturn’s rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This mosaic of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows three fan-like structures in Saturn's tenuous F ring. Such "fans" suggest the existence of additional objects in the F ring. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

This mosaic of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows three fan-like structures in Saturn’s tenuous F ring. Such “fans” suggest the existence of additional objects in the F ring. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Cassini came within 25 kilometers (15.6 miles) of the surface of Enceladus on Oct. 5, 2008.  Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Cassini came within 25 kilometers (15.6 miles) of the surface of Enceladus on Oct. 5, 2008. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Manu June 30, 2014 at 2:18 PM

This mission returned the best planetary photographic harvest yet. Thanks Cassini!

Jeffrey Boerst July 1, 2014 at 2:03 AM

Indeed!! Space porn at it’s finest!

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