Cassini Spacecraft Witnesses Saturn's Blues

February 9, 2005
Saturn's Blues (1)

Colorful new images from the Cassini spacecraft show that Saturn's northern hemisphere has a case of the blues. In the first image, the icy moon Mimas is set against a dazzling and dramatic portrait of Saturn's azure northern hemisphere and the shadows of its rings. A second image shows Saturn's northern polar region is a dim blue.

The blue color of Saturn's northern latitudes may to be linked to the apparently cloud-free nature of the upper atmosphere there. A precise understanding of the phenomenon may come from further study by Cassini imaging scientists.

In the first of these colorful views, Mimas moves in its orbit against the blue backdrop of Saturn's atmosphere, which is draped by sweeping shadows cast by the rings. A few large craters are visible on Mimas, giving the icy moon a dimpled appearance.

Saturn's Blues (2)

The second view shows Saturn's northern polar region, where shadows cast by the rings surrounding the pole appear as dark bands. The ring shadows at higher latitudes correspond to locations on the ring plane that are farther from the planet - in other words, the northernmost ring shadow in this view is cast by the outer edge of Saturn's A ring. Spots of bright clouds also are visible throughout the region.

The view of Saturn and Mimas was taken by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow angle camera on Jan. 18, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Saturn. The view of Saturn's northern polar region was taken with Cassini's wide angle camera on Dec. 14, 2004, at a distance of 719,200 kilometers (446,900 miles) from Saturn.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Uranus' "sprightly" moon Ariel

Related Stories

Uranus' "sprightly" moon Ariel

November 2, 2015

The outer Solar System has enough mysteries and potential discoveries to keep scientists busy for decades. Case in point, Uranus and it's system of moons. Since the beginning of the Space Age, only one space probe has ever ...

Image: Saturn's Northern storm

November 21, 2011

( -- This false-color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn's huge northern storm. In mid-September 2004, the Cassini spacecraft chronicled a similar, but smaller, storm in the southern ...

Image: Saturn's shadows

July 1, 2014

It may seem odd to think of planets casting shadows out in the inky blackness of space, but it is a common phenomenon. Earth's shadow obscures the Moon during a lunar eclipse, and Jupiter's moons cast small shadows onto their ...

In the shadows of Saturn's rings

June 20, 2012

( -- Titan appears to be strung like a bead on Saturn’s rings, which cast shadows onto the southern hemisphere of the gas giant in this beautiful image from Cassini.   Faint but exquisite detail in the ...

Saturn's north polar hexagon

February 26, 2013

(—Saturn's north polar hexagon basks in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear to disappear ...

Cassini detects Lightning and Radiation at Saturn

August 9, 2004

Cassini justifies hopes. The Cassini spacecraft, which began its tour of the Saturn system just over a month ago, has detected lightning and a new radiation belt at Saturn, and a glow around the planet's largest moon, ...

Recommended for you

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

A blue, neptune-size exoplanet around a red dwarf star

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers have used the LCOGT network to detect light scattered by tiny particles (called Rayleigh scattering), through the atmosphere of a Neptune-size transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.