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Cassini. Camera. Saturn.
April 21, 2009 7:56 AM   Subscribe

NASA's Cassini spacecraft went to Saturn and all it got were these awesome pictures.
posted by Saturn XXIII (70 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, those are amazing. I didn't know that the smaller moons dipped in and out of the rings, perturbing as they went.
posted by jquinby at 7:59 AM on April 21, 2009


A lot of those "middle distance" moon shots look like paintings. Awesome.
posted by DU at 8:00 AM on April 21, 2009


Dude. Wow. Epony-excellent.
posted by Mister_A at 8:01 AM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, I'm sure it got all kinds of interesting data besides just pictures.

That picture of Reah and Titan is spectacularly baddass, though.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 AM on April 21, 2009


Great first post Saturn XXIII. Thanks. Eponyster... well, you know.
posted by netbros at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2009


jquinby: "Wow, those are amazing. I didn't know that the smaller moons dipped in and out of the rings, perturbing as they went."

Yea, the shot of the disrupted ring is amazing.
posted by Science! at 8:08 AM on April 21, 2009


Saturn is definitely my (next) favourite planet
posted by doobiedoo at 8:16 AM on April 21, 2009


All the pictures are amazing. Thanks so much!
posted by Tena at 8:16 AM on April 21, 2009


Spectacular images. One of my neighbors works on the Cassini project...I'm not sure what he does, but he works crazy long hours. It's cool to know that he plays a little part in this.
posted by malocchio at 8:17 AM on April 21, 2009


Actually, I'm sure it got all kinds of interesting data besides just pictures.

Cassini has no time for your backseat jibberjabber, it's too busy being cooler than you.
posted by Saturn XXIII at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Good lord that was great.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:33 AM on April 21, 2009


It's cool to see the gravitational wake left by the moons. I would have thought that all of the dust in the rings would have settled out to something more stable given the age of the system. is there an astrophysics person in the house that can explain why it hasn't?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2009


there is nothing in our solar system cooler than the rings of saturn. thanks, Saturn XXIII. this post just evaporated my hangover. now i just need to kick back, put on a little sun ra and enjoy.
posted by barrett caulk at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2009


Cassini is made by Aperture Science.

Saturn XXIII, thanks for bringing these into focus. They are truly spectacular, inspiring images - what a majestic phenomenon it is has the privilege of visiting (at least until the tourists show up).
posted by davemee at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


doobiedoo: "Saturn is definitely my (next) favourite planet"

It's the only planet that floats! [Assuming you have a really big bucket to plop it in.]

Awesome post. Thanks.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:44 AM on April 21, 2009


Awesome link, Saturn XXIII Suttungr.
posted by spamguy at 8:45 AM on April 21, 2009


Well, that's a bit humbling to know we mean jack in this big ole universe.
posted by fijiwriter at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2009


I got a tee shirt too.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:51 AM on April 21, 2009


Incredible, amazing, gorgeous. What a beautiful universe we live in! I want more Titan pics, though; what we've seen from the surface so far is just a tease...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2009


Saturn: A shoe-in for inclusion on Time.com's "Top 10 Plants in the Solar System" list.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:59 AM on April 21, 2009


ahem, "Top 10 PlanEts in the Solar System"
posted by blue_beetle at 8:59 AM on April 21, 2009


The shots of the moons Enceladus and Mimas (photos 10 and 14) seem so distant and lonely.

Don't feel sad little space moons! We love you! We sent you a space robot to keep you company!
posted by quin at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


nice photos... but if this isn't some sort of strange self link, I'll eat my solar system...
posted by HuronBob at 9:02 AM on April 21, 2009


From shot 16, Prometheus's elliptical orbit makes its path through the outer rings every orbit, creating streamers among the rings' dust and rocks.

Very cool photos.
posted by eye of newt at 9:06 AM on April 21, 2009


This makes me homesick. I don't know why.
posted by SPUTNIK at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


In case you were wondering what space porn is, well, this is it.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:20 AM on April 21, 2009


Even without the rings, it's pretty neat. I think the image of the planet through Titan's upper atmosphere is my favorite. Thank you, Saturn XXIII.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:20 AM on April 21, 2009


Well, that's a bit humbling to know we mean jack in this big ole universe.
We haven't put a human foot on a non-terrestrial body in close on 40 years now. We currently don't even mean jack within our own lunar orbit.
posted by PenDevil at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, some of us have gotten pretty good at Guitar Hero. Are there any good Guitar Hero players on the Moon? Nope.
posted by Science! at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to get all religious and all but this is why I believe in Heaven - because if I am a good little boy on Earth, when I die, God will give me wings and I will be able to fly around space discovering these wonderful things myself.

Oh, and I will have unlimited supply of ice-cold Pepsi, and those amazing artery-clogging frenchfries you can only get at souvlaki joints, and I won't need to go to the bathroom ever, AND I will be reunited with my cats.
posted by bitteroldman at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Any sign of the Nommos?
posted by mannequito at 9:45 AM on April 21, 2009


Well, some of us have gotten pretty good at Guitar Hero. Are there any good Guitar Hero players on the Moon? Nope.

What else have they got to do at all those secret military bases?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2009


Since this is a GOV project, where can I find or request the original-resolution images for large-format printing?
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 AM on April 21, 2009


Since this is a GOV project, where can I find or request the original-resolution images for large-format printing?
Just want the full image? Go to the image and look for the "Full-Res" link to the bottom right of the image. That not enough? Go here.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:19 AM on April 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I want to go to there.
posted by ScotchRox at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2009


I want to go to there.

1. I just moved here.

2. It's an exclusive neighborhood.

3. We don't like your kind here anyway.
posted by Saturn XXIII at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post. Thanks.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2009


Picture 7 looks just like a scanning electron micrograph, but the scale is about six or seven orders of magnitude different.
posted by exogenous at 11:01 AM on April 21, 2009


nice!

missed this one tho -- "Interior to the G ring and above the brighter main rings is the pale blue dot of Earth" :P
posted by kliuless at 11:11 AM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


#10: that's no moon, that's a space station.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:26 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Electric Dragon; perfect - thank you.
posted by odinsdream at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2009


Absolutely stunning. Thanks!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:39 AM on April 21, 2009


I can't wait to see the closeups of Uranus.
posted by swift at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2009


The summer before my Dad died, he did some of the final safety inspections on Cassini's power plant so every time I see these kind of pictures it makes me happy that he had a chance to be a small part of something so cool and sad that he never got a chance to see the results. He bought a telescope for Halley's Comet and used to point out constellations to me so he'd be stoked by the amazing success of this mission. Thanks for the link.
posted by macfly at 11:52 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interior to the G ring and above the brighter main rings is the pale blue dot of Earth

Dammit, they always snap the photo when I blink.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2009


Electric Dragon earns a point. (7 more points until next Awesome Level.)
posted by JHarris at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2009


#15 looks like something out of a planetary horror movie. Makes me want to yell at the screen, "Epimetheus, look out behind you!"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2009


This is just about the coolest thing I've seen all year.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2009


"Interior to the G ring and above the brighter main rings is the pale blue dot of Earth"

Hey, that's pretty cool. Just a little blue pebble floating in inky black forever. It's like we're just ...

*pardon me, filled with existential terror now*
posted by Bookhouse at 12:11 PM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This made my day. Thank you!
posted by flippant at 12:57 PM on April 21, 2009


I've been following Cassini (and Huygens) since launch, and its pictures have often been on my desktops. I especially love (ironically for a Saturn probe) its picture of Jupiter and Io taken during its gravity assist flyby.
posted by Electric Dragon at 1:00 PM on April 21, 2009


I may have missed it above, but I can't believe no one's linked this picture yet.

Earth as seen from Saturn. This even beats Earthrise as the most awe-inspiring picture ever, if you ask me.
posted by zap rowsdower at 2:26 PM on April 21, 2009


I was ten or eleven when my family got internet access in the early nineties. The first thing I did was download a picture of Saturn. It took seven hours.
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2009


Just an aside, Venus is going to be occulted tomorrow morning by the also crescent moon for all in North America, except the east coast. Should be quite beautiful!

skyandtelescope.com for more info.
posted by OneOliveShort at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note: The Big Picture blog is curated by Metafilter's own kokogiak. I say that every time we link there, I know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:22 PM on April 21, 2009


Wow, great photos! Thanks for the post, SaturnXXIII and thanks, zap rowsdower, for a picture I hadn't seen before but now agree is The Greatest Photo Ever Taken. (except that it looks totally fake, since it's way too cool to be real)
posted by Quietgal at 8:07 PM on April 21, 2009


"cool"

Counting eight uses of this worthless adjective up to now.
posted by marvin at 10:03 PM on April 21, 2009


I was ten or eleven when my family got internet access in the early nineties. The first thing I did was download a picture of Saturn. It took seven hours.

Heh, that was exactly what I did, over a 2400 baud modem.
posted by claudius at 10:24 PM on April 21, 2009


Sometimes photos like this remind you of the actual reality of space. I've gone to some planetariums, looked through telescopes - and you get weirded out by how big and how real it is.
And looking at something like this, that is so achingly majestic and so vivid and real is awesome.
And then you come back to Earth, check out the web or t.v. or something and these stupid fucking monkeys are still killing people over crap that comes out of the ground.
I get what Wilde was saying, we're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.
I just hope it's enough of us. I see this and I don't think there's any question of where we belong. It's not fighting over bits of paper or symbols of status.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:26 PM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I may have missed it above, but I can't believe no one's linked this picture yet.

i prefer the natural color version myself...

also, that tshirt is cool and all (the image of io with jupiter was taken on the REAL millenium (jan 1, 2001), btw), but just so you know, i have an official 'cassini launch team' tshirt. its kermit green and has a tech drawing of the probe on the back. its ok with me if you'd like to seethe with jealousy. ;)

I would have thought that all of the dust in the rings would have settled out to something more stable given the age of the system.

well, firstly, the ring system might not be that old...possibly as young as a few hundred thousand years...shattered moon slowly re-accreting, etc etc. ...but mainly, its just a very dynamic system...the rings are being pulled on by 60+ moons. wanna know why the rings have all those crazy stripes? well, when one object orbits another and has negligible mass compared to the parent body (like a chunk of rock in the rings of saturn, or a manmade satellite orbiting the earth), then the equasions actually get quite simple and there becomes a direct relationship between the objects velocity, its altitude, and its period. here on earth, if you launch a satellite up to ~10,400 miles up, its period is 24 hours. (since the earth rotates every 24 hours, satellites at this altitude that orbit around the equator seem to hang in space, never moving...its called geosyncronous orbit) at the height of the space shuttle (~300 miles) the period is 90 minutes. ok, heres the cool part: imagine a moon that orbits saturn every 12 hours, and closer in, a ringlet that orbits every 6 hours. twice in its orbit that moon is going to be pulling every particle in that ring out of its orbit. this is what's known as a 1:2 resonance. a ringlet that obits every 4 hours would be in a 1:3 resonance. the cassini division (the big gap right in the middle of the rings) is caused by a 1:2 resonance with mimas. there are all sorts of resonances (2:3, 7:12, etc etc) between the rings and the moons...each moon (and remember, there's like 60 of them) basically leaves a very complex 'barcode' on the rings, the strength of the markings being due to the strength of the gravitional pull of the moon (that being determined by the moon's size and distance from the rings). also, some of the rings are spirals, going allll the way around saturn to become the next ring in, and some of the rings are bent slightly out of the plane of the rings by moons that orbit in inclined planes.

i am sooo looking forward to august, when the rings go edge-on to the sun. that one shot of the shadows cast by the big chunks at the outer edge of the B ring is just a hint of things to come...

also, i want to have sex with the cassini probe. *sigh* long-distance relationships are SO hard....
posted by sexyrobot at 11:28 PM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


also...more images can be found at the CICLOPS (cassini imaging central lab for operations) cassini imaging diary. (including awesome shots and movies from the jupiter flyby)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:36 PM on April 21, 2009


Breathtaking. Thankfully the tinfoil hat greentard brigade who were so upset by its Voyager-like thermonuclear battery were ignored. As they always should be.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:16 AM on April 22, 2009


also, i want to have sex with the cassini probe. *sigh* long-distance relationships are SO hard....
posted by sexyrobot at 11:28 PM on April 21

You can't get any more eponysterical than that, I think.

Amazing pictures.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:45 AM on April 22, 2009


Yeah, but, now we have to deal with the 'I Wanna Have Sex With Cassini' brigade.
posted by mannequito at 8:48 AM on April 22, 2009


These are stunning.
posted by homunculus at 4:26 PM on April 22, 2009


New Evidence for Ice-Spewing Volcanoes on Saturn’s Moon Titan
posted by homunculus at 4:40 PM on April 22, 2009


Since this is a GOV project, where can I find or request the original-resolution images for large-format printing?

odinsdream, Electric Dragon,

If you want to get the actual raw images that the scientists use, they are released to the Planetary Data System (PDS) within one year of the date the image was taken. NASAView is a very basic program, available for PC, Mac, and Linux, that can display images in PDS format. If you want to get into this, I highly recommend going to UnmannedSpaceflight.com. A lot of very professional amateurs hang out there.

By the way, Cassini's two cameras only have 1 megapixel each!
posted by lukemeister at 7:32 PM on April 22, 2009


also, even easier, and linked above but not labelled, the cassini site has a raw images page. it's only b&w jpegs, but you can search by all kinds of criteria, or just hit 'browse latest 500 images' and see what saturn looked like yesterday. cassini is the first probe to release data so promptly (the 'one year' that lukemeister mentioned applies to the raw data...most other missions have this one year waiting period for all data...its to keep the scientists from getting 'scooped' on their discoveries). the fun crafts project is to look for a series of images on the thumbnails page of the same composition, but different shading...a good sign that multiple filters were used. on each images page the filters used are listed (CL1 and CL2 are the most common...both clear (each of the 2 cameras has 2 filter wheels with multiple filters on each wheel...all the filter acronyms are described here)). look for images taken with RED, GRN, and BL1 or BL2, and you can make your own full-color images in the photoshop. ITS FUN!

BONUS FUN: type 09/14/2006 thru 09/17/2006 into the search field. look familiar?

also, srsly, all i need is a saturn v rocket, some scuba tanks, and a big bag of trail mix...i could be there in a week...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:36 PM on April 22, 2009


SCENE: INTERIOR:A MOLDY OLD BAR ON MOLDY OLD EARTH.

GIRL: Oh goshers oh

A DRUNK NOTICES HER

GIRL: OH! Can anyone give for the Titanian cause? anyone?

SHE LOOKS AROUND.

Girl: Oh! You have a Titan countenance! Give to the cause? Cents for Titan?

She smiles.

MAN: NO

GIRL: Oh C'mon, for your countrymen

MAN: I'm not a fag

GIRL: What?

MAN: Titans. All fags.

GIRL: I don't really think-

MAN: They're all about big things but it's just some big fag ass party. Trust me. I was on Uncle.

GIRL: Encleaus?

MAN: Ha! Big uncle! Not but a bunch of bad jobs. Big Uncle gave us some big jobs, but not enough, you know girlee, about Europa, about the-

GIRL: I know about Euro-. I Know about what happened

MAN; Bloody HORROR what happened. The things. They said. Well, you can't say what they said can you? The bots get you in a second. But I can say this, and I'll say it so you can understand it, Europa wasn't the end of it.

GIRL: You mean Enclea-

MANL I Mean nuthin! NUTHIN! Fuck off anyways. You're not that pretty, not in this light.

GIRL: Well I-

MAN: FUCK. OFF. Leave a man to drink. If you don't I'll call the ASBOs.

GIRL: I am sorry. I didn't realize. Can I get you something, a drink or

MAN: FUCK. OFF. Don't you people GET THAT! God! Like you have to show a sign! GO AWAY! I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU ANY MORE!

GIRL: Bye!

MAN: FUCK YOU!
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 PM on April 24, 2009


SCENE: INTERIOR: A MOLDY OLD HOSPITAL IN MOLDY OLD EARTH:


ANNAH: Can you turn down the noise-

BETTIE: I can try, sorry some people are loud I-

ANNAH: What is that!?

BETTE: Oh nothing! Just a wounded warrior. We get a lot of them. From the Psi Wars. They're totally harmless, really no problem at all in-fact-

ANNAH: I get it. All that burning. Oh God, it's for nothing, oh god, isn't it? You don't tell them that, you don't? It's not gonna help

BETTE: I really just help with the-

ANNAH: You're not helping THEM are yah?

BETTE: I, I try ti help.

ANNAH: Then help them. Oh god. They have no idea. Are you a Martian? Like really a one?

BETTE TOUCHES HER HEAD, HER HEIGHT A FULL FOOT ABOVE TERRANS, SHE TOUCHES HER UNCLOSED FOLD-

ANNAH: Look, you have to tell them. It's not an accident, you have to oh have you, oh god, oh no.

And Bette let her die and then Bette let the other guy die. A Titanian, from the reports. They're all crazy. Weirdo fucking faggots like the Uncle people. They're just like the Venus Project, and we all know how that turned out. Better not to try. Just that, weirdos, people on the edge of space. Tuckers. Everyone knows they're weird. Slime and Snails and puppy dog tials.

She stops.

What was a snail.

She stopped.

Well, they're weird. ANNAH was good but she gets aI good red mark. Flagged. WAS WEIRD. Heh.

He was weird.

What did She mean, exactly?

Hmmm.

BETTE:LOOKS FOR A MARTIAN PSYCHOLOGY BOOK AND THEN HUMAN-MARTIAN RELATIONS. SHE READS

SHE GOES TO BED WITH WHAT SHE READS

SHE IS CONTENT.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 PM on April 24, 2009


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