Rings Discovered Around an Asteroid

We all know that Saturn is encircled by a system of rings, and perhaps you also know about the fainter rings around Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune. But today, ESO astronomers have revealed a surprising discovery: there are also rings surrounding the asteroid 10199 Chariklo, a small, distant world orbiting the Sun far beyond Saturn. This makes 250-km-wide Chariklo the fifth…

OMG Saturn.

Go get some extra socks handy because this new image of Saturn is going to knock ’em clean off your feet. Seen in eclipse against the light of the Sun, Saturn and its rings seem to glow with a magical light in this picture, painstakingly assembled from 141 separate wide-angle images taken by the Cassini spacecraft…

You Could Never See Saturn Like This

…not without a spaceship, anyway. But Cassini can — and did — on October 10, 2013 (mostly because it IS a spaceship) and thanks to the image-editing skills of Gordan Ugarkovic you too can enjoy the incredible view!

Ring Shadows Surround Saturn’s South

Cassini gets a great look at Saturn’s southern half in this color-composite, assembled from raw images acquired on July 13, 2013. Click for a larger view in my Flickr stream (the original raw images were only 1024 px, so it’s still a little grainy.) I adjusted the channel histograms quite a bit to achieve a…

Proof that Meteors Hit Saturn’s Rings… a Lot

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided the first direct evidence of small meteoroids breaking into streams of rubble and crashing into Saturn’s rings. These observations make Saturn’s rings the only location besides Earth, the Moon and Jupiter where meteor impacts have been observed as they occur. The meteoroids at Saturn are estimated to range from about one-half…

Research Reveals Rain Shadows from Saturn’s Rings

A rain of ionized water molecules falls into Saturn’s upper atmosphere from its rings, researchers from England’s University of Leicester have found. Using images from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft and more recent near-infrared observations from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, it has been found that dark bands seen across Saturn are actually the “rain shadows” of…

Ghosts of Worlds Passed

Saturn’s F ring is a fascinating structure. Made of fine icy particles — most no larger than the particulates found in cigarette smoke — it orbits Saturn just outside the A ring and is easily perturbed by the gravity of nearby moons and embedded moonlets, which create streamers and clumps that rise up in fanciful…

Cassini’s Christmas Gift: a Peek at Prometheus

Captured on Christmas Day, this is a raw image from Cassini showing Saturn’s F ring buckling inwards at two places due to the gravitational tug of its inner shepherd moon, Prometheus, seen at center. As the irregularly-shaped moon approaches the ring material in its looping orbit around Saturn it draws material from the ring in…

Saturn’s Backlit Beauty

As a sort of Christmas gift to the world, the Cassini mission team released this image today, a majestic mosaic showing the planet Saturn gleaming in backlit sunlight. “Of all the many glorious images we on Cassini have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those we have taken from within Saturn’s shadow,”…

Daphnis Is Back!

It’s been a while since I posted an image of my favorite moon of Saturn, but while looking through some recent raw images returned by the Cassini spacecraft I spotted it: Daphnis, the little sculptor shepherd moon!

Up and Over the Rings – Atlas and Pandora

Cassini’s at it again! After its last flyby of Titan the spacecraft changed course, heading up and away from Saturn’s equatorial plane at an angle that will allow it to better study the rings and the planet’s polar regions. This raw image, captured on May 23, shows Cassini’s view as it heads upwards. It shows…