Saturn's second-largest moon Rhea, in front of the rings and a blurred Epimetheus (or Janus) whizzing behind. Acquired March 29, 2012.
Saturn's second-largest moon Rhea, in front of the rings and a blurred Epimetheus (or Janus) whizzing behind. Acquired March 29, 2012.

Cassini, Saturn

Postcards From Saturn

30 Mar , 2012 by

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Over the past few days NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has performed flybys of several of Saturn’s moons. From the ostentatious Enceladus with its icy geysers to the rugged relief of Rhea, the sharp peaks of Dione’s frigid craters and even diminutive Janus, Cassini has once again returned a stack of stunning views from the Saturnian system, nearly 815 million miles from home.

Check out some of the images, and wish you were there!

110-mile (177-km) -wide Janus in front of Saturn's night side.

A crescent-lit Enceladus shows off its jets. (South is up.)

Enceladus' fractured surface is some of the most reflective terrain in the Solar System.

Wide-angle view of Rhea, Saturn and Mimas

Crater peak on icy Dione

And here’s a color-composite of Janus I assembled from three raw images taken in ultraviolet, green and infrared color channels. The results were tweaked to make it a little more true-color as what we might see with our limited human vision:

Color composite of Janus in front of Saturn, made from raw images taken in UV, green and IR color filters. (NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major)

“Though we’ve been in orbit around Saturn for nearly 8 years now, we still continue to image these moons for mapping purposes and, in the case of Enceladus, to learn as much as we can about its famous jets and the subterranean, organic-rich, salty, liquid water chamber from which we believe they erupt.”

– Carolyn Porco, Cassini Imaging Team leader

For more images from Cassini, check out JPL’s mission site and the CICLOPS imaging lab site here.

Image credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

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By  -        
A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!



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skipdallas
Member
skipdallas
March 31, 2012 12:28 PM

Before Man’s eventual journey to the stars, we have a whole Solar System to explore study and try to understand. These studies will put us in good stead for our explorations of the Galaxy. The photographs in this article brought this home to me this morning. Wonderful beautiful places that we know so little about and can teach us so much about our Universe. Mankind is on the threshold of an amazing era. I just hope that short-sighted politicians do not put an end to this quest.

denbo68
Guest
denbo68
March 31, 2012 7:12 PM

“Before Man’s eventual journey to the stars…”

I hate to say this but the odds are highly against this ever happening. Maybe some of the closer stars but the whole Galaxy? Believing in faster than light speed is akin to believing in astrology and Ouija boards. Makes a great story but…

As for your remarks on short-sighted politicians, I feel they appropriately represent their short-sighted constituents.

skipdallas
Member
skipdallas
March 31, 2012 7:21 PM

And the ancients said about the same thing concerning flight in general. I paraphrase: “Any technology far in advance of ours will be seen as magic.”
Your remark about the short-sightedness of people in general, is rather cynical. I give just a bit more credit to others than you seem too. I guess it boils down to how you visualize the glass of water: half full, or half empty. Of course, I see it as half full.

denbo68
Guest
denbo68
March 31, 2012 7:30 PM

The ancients didn’t have peer reviewed journals.

I would love to believe that mankind will travel the galaxy… on the other hand perhaps it would be best to just stay home? Why cause problems elsewhere?

I see the glass half filled with tainted water, half filled with carbon monoxide.

Your view of the glass might be poetic, mine is realistic.

skipdallas
Member
skipdallas
March 31, 2012 8:02 PM

Hopefully, one day we can clean the water and our air. However the people that accomplish this will have to believe in something better for Mankind than you seem to be able to bring to the table. Sure there are problems of ALL kinds that beset us. Are we to just give up? Or are we to search for the solutions that need to be brought to bear against these things that we ourselves have done to the environment. Pessimism is never the realistic view, except for Luddites.

denbo68
Guest
denbo68
March 31, 2012 8:29 PM
“However the people that accomplish this will have to believe in something better for Mankind than you seem to be able to bring to the table….Pessimism is never the realistic view, except for Luddites.” So I am a pessimist and luddite… well I don’t recall getting personal with you about this; I simply said I thought my view was more realistic than yours based on scientific fact. So… how am I a pessimist & luddite? Because I actually believe Einstein (and others) have proven we can never approach the speed of light? And even if we could, it would still take 4.3 years just to get to the nearest star. I did say I thought mankind might make… Read more »
Peter
Member
Peter
April 1, 2012 12:31 AM

C’mon now, you were being a bit of a troll and got what you deserved. Since there is currently no time limit on the human race, or whatever succeeds it, we may of course, find a way to traverse distances that currently stagger us. Einstein notwithstanding. Nobody is asking you to figure out how, just to have an open enough mind to admit there is no one who can deny the possibility.

denbo68
Guest
denbo68
April 1, 2012 1:34 AM
“… just to have an open enough mind to admit there is no one who can deny the possibility.” If you go back to my original post I said “the odds are highly against this ever happening”. That isn’t the same as saying it is impossible. Is it? But one has to face the fact that ‘c’ is an asymptote. You can approach it all you want but going above it just isn’t going to happen… no matter how powerful your ‘engines’ are. Sure… maybe with enough time physicists will figure it out but so far betting against Einstein has been a bad idea (just ask poor Dr Ereditato the former head of the Opera group). By the… Read more »
dragaoazul
Guest
dragaoazul
April 1, 2012 1:15 PM

the problem my friend is that you see traveling the universe as a trip…..

it isn’t, its a multi-generation self-sustaining society moving…..

we could do it tomorow……the tech is there…..only the will (money) to invest not….

denbo68
Guest
denbo68
April 1, 2012 5:02 PM
“…but the tech IS there…..it’s relatively easy to build a spaceship…” Is this an April Fool’s joke?? Radiation and health (mental/physical) aside how can you say the tech is there? Scientists have had little success just getting closed ecosystems to work here on Earth (see Biosphere 2). And you think it is currently ‘easy’ to do in space?? How can you make such a statement? Think of the number of people needed to live in a ‘generational ship’. You need more than just an Adam and Eve. It has been theorized that 150 to 180 people would be live to make such a ship. Tell me when have we ever had more than 15 people just in orbit… Read more »
aerandir
Member
April 1, 2012 3:02 PM

“the tech is there”

Not..
We’re a far ways away before we can confidently leave LEO for permanent habitation let alone traverse the outer regions of our solar system.

dragaoazul
Guest
dragaoazul
April 1, 2012 3:23 PM

I dunno what your knowledge is based on my friend…

but the tech IS there…..it’s relatively easy to build a spaceship…(not the starwars kind off type though)….but most people (with knowledge) think it is not worth the effort nor the costs…yet….I do not agree.

aerandir
Member
April 1, 2012 3:34 PM

We have no sure-fire way to protect ourselves from the lethal radiation in deep-space.. no fully tested way of growing our own food in space, no current way of replacing broken parts aboard your spacecraft.. barely or no amount of testing done on creating artificial gravity, conditions which are needed on long duration space flights to minimize bone loss.

These are just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are more things that need to be considered.

A lot of R&D needs to be done on life-support systems, possible 3D printers that can spit out small replacement parts, ISRU technologies etc. before we can venture out and explore the solar system

dragaoazul
Guest
dragaoazul
April 1, 2012 11:54 PM

like I said…all small isues you can resolve tomorow, if you put your head and money to it.
Even DARPA think so, the head part that is, because all the money goes to the military offcoarse.
THATS the only reason you do not get money for what really matters.

aerandir
Member
April 2, 2012 12:00 AM

a) they’re not small issues they’re big hurdles
b) of course we can resolve them if we put our mind and money into it, that’s not the point
c) part b) doesn’t imply that the technology CURRENTLY exists which is what you said in the first place

dragaoazul
Guest
dragaoazul
April 2, 2012 11:45 AM

it’s not what I said….

if you give me some time, I can quote several scientists on that…..a lot off them.

you take currently like today, I say currently like within our life time (remeber the 70thies project?)

cade22
Guest
cade22
April 2, 2012 5:08 PM

I visit this site for the great articles on an amazing frontier that is being explored in new ways and presenting alot of food for thought. Occassionally I like to read the comments for the diverse opinions and digest those opinions in the grand scheme of things. In the comments entered here, both sides present interesting points – however, and sadly, Aerandir90 and denbo68 do present their points with a taste of distain for other’s optimism. Just sayin’…

Micah Sturdevant
Guest
Micah Sturdevant
April 3, 2012 1:32 AM

I agree skipdallas, but why let the politicians say what can be done? I will gladly donate $20 to NASA Planetary Exploration. I’m guessing we could get some donations. Perhaps we should start something?

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