Time for Saturn’s rings to get their close-up

Icy debris makes up the fine lines and striping in Saturn's B Ring. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Tech/Science Space Institute)

Icy debris makes up the fine lines and striping in Saturn’s outer B Ring. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

In case you missed it, NASA this week released an amazing crop of close-up photos of Saturn’s icy rings. The photos come courtesy of the Cassini mission, which was launched in 1997 as a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. Cassini reached Saturn in 2004, and has been sending back a rich stream of photos and data about the beringed planet ever since.

In addition to sending back these highly detailed images of Saturn’s rings, Cassini has made several remarkable discoveries about Saturn’s moons, including the presence of a global ocean on Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Titan.

Cassini’s final series of passes around Saturn will begin in April 2017, when Cassini will shift its orbit from one that grazes the outer edge of Saturn’s rings to one that dives between those rings and the planet’s surface. When its mission is complete, Cassini will sink into Saturn’s atmosphere and shut down.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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2 Responses to Time for Saturn’s rings to get their close-up

  1. rayworth1973 says:

    Saw a very blurry Mars and a larger than normal Venus, plus Uranus this past weekend at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Saturn is behind the sun right now and Jupiter didn’t rise until around midnight, just about the time I quit for both evenings. Neptune and Pluto are along with Saturn and behind the sun as well right now. I spent most of the weekend looking at faint fuzzies. However, if I were to look at planets, I must admit Saturn is usually one of the highlights, especially when the rings are at an angle.


    • Shala Howell says:

      Jealous. We’re still buried in clouds here. Or rather, we were last night. Lovely blue sky today, actually. Come to think of it, I might just stay up and see what I can see in the sky tonight.


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