Prime PDS Picks

Saturn's multi-colored atmosphere seen by Cassini on April 30, 2010

Every six to nine months or so the Cassini Imaging Center dumps orbiter image data into NASA’s Planetary Data System, or PDS. This data is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, but it can be a little awkward to find exactly what you’re looking for (unless you’re familiar with the technical nomenclature of the dozen imaging filter codes and timestamps of Cassini data…in which case, dig in!) Luckily the SETI institute has set up a more user-friendly search engine that allows desktop astronomers to zero in on image collections with less data entry involved.

(More photos after the jump…)

Here’s a few favorites of mine from the latest Cassini PDS release, made accessible on April 1 and featuring raw image data collected from Saturn orbit all throughout 2010. (Several of these are in color; these are images I assembled myself when image data was available from Cassini’s red, green and blue visual light color filters. In some cases saturation and/or contrast was enhanced.) Hope you like them as much as I do. Enjoy!

Rhea seems to hover over the top of Saturn's rings
A closer look at Rhea in direct sunlight (contrast enhanced)
The F-ring's outer shepherd moon Pandora (shown in color)
Crescent-lit Dione shows off its deep scarps
Daphnis and Pan rock the rings in this wide-angle image taken on June 3, 2010
Backlit by the Sun, Titan's haze creates a ring around the moon

Image credits: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute. Edited by J. Major.