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Space NASA Science

Cassini's Christmas Gift: In the Shadow of Saturn 32

astroengine writes "As the Cassini mission continues to orbit the ringed gas giant Saturn, it's hard to imagine what magnificent view the NASA spacecraft will show us next. Today, however, is one for the history books. As a very special Christmas holiday treat, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) team have processed a magnificent view of Saturn that is rarely seen — a portrait from the dark side of the planet."
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Cassini's Christmas Gift: In the Shadow of Saturn

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  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @04:52PM (#42330003) Homepage Journal

    The first is firewalled off (they think discovery is an entertainment site) and the second is slashdotted. So here you fellows go, straight from NASA. [] I doubt we'll slashdot them... and submitter, why did you not link the source?

  • by wooferhound ( 546132 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @05:05PM (#42330189) Homepage
    The Ciclops site linked in the summery is the official Cassini site for processed pictures and raw images taken by Cassini. NASA gets the pics after they are released on Ciclops.
  • by chichilalescu ( 1647065 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @07:34PM (#42331735) Homepage Journal

    The camera is behind and "below" Saturn, and Saturn's rings are "tilted" towards the Sun (you can see this because the planet's shadow on the rings is curved; if the ring was parallel to the light rays, the shadow would have straight edges).
    The planet's back is lit by the rings: the upper part gets light reflected by the rings, and some diffused light, while the lower part only gets diffused light, that's why the upper part is better illuminated.
    The "black rings" that you can see over the upper part of the planet are just the back of the rings (i.e the part that's in Saturn's shadow). Because the planet is much better illuminated than this portion of the rings, you see them as black on colored background (they must receive some light from the back of the planet, but that's probably below the sensitivity threshold of the camera).
    They are "offset" because you only notice the portion between the camera and the planet; the rest of the shadowy part of the rings is dark on a dark background, so you can't see it.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers