Astronomy Picture of the Day

Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane

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#73290 by @ 05.05.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane

If this is Saturn, where are the rings?

When Saturn's "appendages"
in 1612, Galileo did not understand why.

Later that century, it became understood that
Saturn's unusual protrusions were rings and that when the
Earth crosses the ring plane,
the edge-on rings will appear to disappear.

This is because Saturn's rings are confined to a plane many times thinner, in proportion, than a
razor blade.

In modern times, the
robot Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn now also crosses
Saturn's ring plane.

A series of plane crossing images from late February
was dug out of the vast
online Cassini raw image archive by interested Spanish amateur
Fernando Garcia Navarro.

Pictured above, digitally cropped and set in representative colors,
is the striking result.

Saturn's thin ring plane appears in blue, bands and clouds in
Saturn's upper atmosphere
appear in gold, and dark
shadows of the rings
curve across the top of the gas giant planet.

Moons appear as bumps in the rings.

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