It’s no secret to anyone who’s been following my posts these last couple of years…images from the Cassini mission are my personal favorites and make up more than half of all my posts. So you can imagine my dismay when Cassini went into a “safe” mode over the past several weeks as a result of a smidgen of bad code that got sent its way – a “bit flip”, as it was called – and stopped sending image data back to Earth while mission engineers analyzed and repaired the problem. Thankfully Cassini is just fine and will resume normal operations this coming Wednesday (*whew!*) but since November 2 there haven’t been any new images from Saturn…..what’s a space blogger to do?? (Answer: not a whole heck of a lot besides wait patiently and be glad there was no serious problem with the spacecraft!) Fortunately there’s been no shortage of other images and news to share, what with the rendezvous with comet Hartley-2, SDO’s view of another lunar crossing and even a new look at old images with a beautiful animation of Jupiter’s clouds created from Voyager 1 photos. So hopefully the lack of anything new from Cassini wasn’t immediately obvious! (All right, I confess: I snuck one in with an archive re-post. It just didn’t feel right without some moon-on-ring action around here. 😉 )
Needless to say I’m looking forward to Cassini getting back to work and sending us more fantastic images, but I am also very glad the little fella’s okay up there too. If he needed more time to recoup you wouldn’t find me complaining. (Well maybe a little. But not loudly.) The mission is undeniably one of the most impressive and accomplished undertakings in the field of astronomy and I am honored to be able to share even just a few of its discoveries and images here on my site!
The image above is a color composite of three raw data images taken in the red, green and blue color filters, from October 22, 2010. Combining these raw images and aligning them in Photoshop results in a full-color view of the scene, and while not technically color-calibrated it does give an approximate view of what the scene would look like to our eyes. Cassini used its wide-angle camera to take the image of Saturn and its rings seen nearly edge-on, the ring shadows below, and two of its 62 moons. Click the image to view it on my Flickr page, or click here to see more color images of Saturn in my Flickr set.
Image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute. Edited by J. Major.