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Arc in Motion September 22, 2008

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The bright arc of material in Saturn's G ring is seen here as it rounds the ring's edge, or ansa.
Additional Images:

Full-Res: PIA10472

Description:

The bright arc of material in Saturn’s G ring is seen here as it rounds the ring’s edge, or ansa. The ring arc orbits Saturn along the inner edge of the G ring.Cassini spacecraft scientists think the arc contains a population of relatively large, icy particles held in place by a gravitational an orbital resonance with the moon Mimas. Micrometeoroids collide with the large particles, releasing smaller, dust-sized particles that brighten the arc. The plasma in the giant planet’s magnetic field sweeps through this arc continually, dragging out the fine particles and creating the G ring. The ring arc orbits Saturn along the inner edge of the G ring.

The diffuse glow at left shows the extended nature of this faint ring.

The ring moved against the background stars during this exposure, creating the star trails seen here.

The view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from less than a degree below the ringplane.

The upper, brighter ring section is the one closer to Cassini. Here, the ring arc is coming toward Cassini and moving toward right as it rounds the ansa.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 22, 2008. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (740,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 13 degrees. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel in the radial, or outward-from-Saturn, direction.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

PIA10465: Saturn Gets in the Way September 11, 2008

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Saturn Gets in the Way

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Description:

The Cassini spacecraft continued to track Saturn’s moon Prometheus after it disappeared behind the planet, capturing a few fortunate, high-resolution views of the clouds in Saturn’s high north.

PIA10463 was taken an hour earlier, just before the moon vanished behind Saturn. Later, when Prometheus reappeared from behind the planet, Cassini was waiting to take more images.

The view is centered on a region located about 70 degrees north of Saturn’s equator. North is toward the top of the image and rotated 28 degrees to the right. The vortices seen here are among the swarm of bright spots seen in PIA10449, just south of the north polar hexagon.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 9, 2008. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Inverted Riverbed in Gale Crater (PSP_009149_1750) September 9, 2008

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Inverted Riverbed in Gale Crater

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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Description:

Gale Crater is a large, approximately 152 kilometer-diameter impact crater that lies near the Martian equator. Contained within the crater is a massive central mound of layered material. With an average vertical thickness of almost 4 km (2.4 miles), the Gale Crater layered deposits are twice as thick as the layers exposed along the Grand Canyon on Earth.

Shown here is a portion of the mound with an inverted fluvial or river channel. Topographic inversion occurs when sediments are cemented together, forming a harder layer that is resistant to later erosion. This later erosion has preferentially removed material outside the channel, leaving the former riverbed exposed as a ridge—a topographic high. This inverted channel was originally detected by scientists using Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.

Color variations visible in this image are mostly due to variable amounts of loose dark sediment that has accumulated unevenly across the scene.

Defrosted Margin of the North Polar Erg (PSP_009396_2590) September 8, 2008

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Defrosted Margin of the North Polar Erg

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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Description:

This image shows a traverse across a section of the North Polar erg, a vast sea of sand that surrounds the polar cap.

The source of the dunes may be from the eroding north polar layered deposits. Wind, acting on this mixture of sand, dust, and ice, has formed several dune types on top of bright megaripples and polygons. A dark mantle of sand lies beyond the dunes. 

The central part of the field contains transverse dunes with the dominant wind direction coming from the northwest-west. The outer edges of the dune field transition into star dunes (with multiple arms) and barchanoid dunes (crescent-like shape). The star dunes indicate a multidirectional wind regime or a change in wind direction over the dune field’s evolution. The dunes are somewhat confined to their location and may have taken hundreds of years to form.

Mineralogical Diversity in Nili Fossae (PSP_009138_2025) August 26, 2008

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Mineralogical Diversity in Nili Fossae

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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Explanation:

There is evidence of phyllosilicate material (clays) throughout this region, named Nili Fossae. The evidence comes from the OMEGA experiment on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft and CRISM on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, infrared spectrometers that can identify minerals on the surface of Mars.

In the Nili Fossae region, the spectrometers have found remarkable diversity in surface composition. Because of the evidence for clays and other interesting geology, Nili Fossae is also being considered as a landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory rover.

HiRISE has targeted several places where OMEGA and CRISM show extreme diversity, with this being one example. In this specific area, low-calcium pyroxene (LCP) materials are adjacent to these clays. The cracked terrain regions evident at the highest resolution provide clues to the sequence of events which occurred in Nili Fossae.

Fresh Double-Layered Ejecta Crater (PSP_009160_2350) August 25, 2008

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Fresh Double-Layered Ejecta Crater

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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Explanation:

This scene features a high latitude, northern hemisphere crater with double-layered ejecta. The sharp rim and lack of small superposed craters indicates that this crater is relatively young.

The semi-circular feature that parallels the crater rim is a terrace that probably formed as part of the crater wall collapsed into the center. The circular mound in the center likely formed at the same time as the crater itself. Large craters on Mars can have central peaks; this crater looks like it was on the cusp of having one. The linear features surrounding the crater on its ejecta are striations that formed during the impact as material and wind exploded out from the center.

At the bottom of the scene is a very distinct ejecta flow lobe (lobate ejecta). Lobate ejecta is thought to form when an impact occurs on a surface with lots of volatiles—ices that quickly turn to gas when they are heated. The gases help make the ejecta flow like a fluid.

Great Southern Land August 19, 2008

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Saturn's moon Enceladus
Description:

This sweeping mosaic of Saturn’s moon Enceladus provides broad regional context for the ultra-sharp, close-up views NASA’s Cassini spacecraft acquired minutes earlier, during its flyby on Aug. 11, 2008. See PIA11114 and PIA11113 for the higher resolution views.

This false-color mosaic combines Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) narrow-angle camera images obtained through ultraviolet, green, and near-infrared camera filters. Areas that are greenish in appearance are believed to represent deposits of coarser grained ice and solid boulders that are too small to be seen at this scale, but which are visible in the higher resolution views, while whitish deposits represent finer grained ice. The mosaic shows that coarse-grained and solid ice are concentrated along valley floors and walls, as well as along the upraised flanks of the “tiger stripe” fractures, which may be covered with plume fallout that landed not far from the sources. Elsewhere on Enceladus, this coarse water ice is concentrated within outcrops along cliff faces and at the top of ridges. The sinuous boundary of scarps and ridges that encircles the south polar terrain at about 55 degrees south latitude is conspicuous. Much of the coarse-grained or solid ice along this boundary may be blocky rubble that has crumbled off of cliff faces as a result of ongoing seismic activity. This mosaic complements the imaging coverage acquired during Cassini’s July 2005 flyby of Enceladus by showing portions of the moon’s south polar region and tiger stripes, or sulci, that were in darkness during that flyby (PIA06247).

The reversed lighting conditions over the polar region (compared to the July 2005 images) highlight features, such as fractures and ridges, that are barely visible in the July 2005 views, and vice versa. The four most prominent sulci (from top to bottom: Damascus, Baghdad, Alexandria and Cairo) appear as generally horizontal fractures near lower right, and they extend into the moon’s night side. The mosaic is an orthographic projection centered at 63.0 degrees south latitude, 281.3 degrees west longitude, and has an image scale of 60 meters (196 feet) per pixel. The original images ranged in resolution from 28 to 154 meters (92 to 505 feet) per pixel and were taken at distances ranging from 5,064 to 25,949 kilometers (3,140 to 15,468 miles) from Enceladus.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Additional Image:

High resolution JPEG (7.9Mb)

Swirling With Shadows December 1, 2006

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This spectacular image of Saturn's clouds looks obliquely across the high northern latitudes. The Sun is low on the horizon here, making the vertical extent of the clouds easier to see. Cloud bands surrounding the vortex

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Explanation:

This spectacular image of Saturn’s clouds looks obliquely across the high northern latitudes. The Sun is low on the horizon here, making the vertical extent of the clouds easier to see. Cloud bands surrounding the vortex at lower left rise above their surroundings, casting shadows toward the bottom of the image.

Some motion blur is apparent in this view.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 938 nanometers on Oct. 30, 2006. Cassini was then at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (700,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 142 degrees. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Ring of Light July 1, 2006

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Ring of Light

Credit:

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Description:

Dazzling Titan glows with a 360-degree sunset as light scatters through its very extended atmosphere. Some structure is visible in the hazes of the northern polar hood.

To the left is Janus (181 kilometers, or 113 miles across), far off on the opposite side of the ringplane. The rings show their unlit side to Cassini, as the spacecraft viewed them from slightly above the ringplane.

A world with strikingly Earth-like physical processes, frigid Titan is Saturn’s largest natural satellite, at 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) across. Titan’s image is saturated at the 5 o’clock position.

The view was acquired in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 2, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.3 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 163 degrees. Cassini was 3.7 million kilometers (2.3 million miles) from Janus. Image scale is 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Titan and 22 kilometers (14 miles) on Janus.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

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