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Space is Cool

Damn, this is an excellent picture from the Cassini Saturn mission:

Saturn’s rings, the small moon of Epimetheus, and hydrocarbon-laden Titan, fuzzy in the background. Gorgeous.

There’s more where that came from here. I’d go look at them if I were you.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

23 replies on “Space is Cool”

I think my favorite is #14. There’s something indefinably striking about how Mimas just floats there above that vast featureless expanse.

Checking in to see how bad the power outage was for you; the DDN site was pointing out Bradford as a major outage. Which, of course, led to a VMI of you working in the lab-oratory in full white mad doctor jacket, rubbing your hands over a keyboard, going ‘Muahahaha – my latest creation….I *throws switch* now Give! It! Life!’

Suddenly, the lights all go out in the whole county. And then the next one. And the next one. Aaaaand….

Space-rocks! Space rocks!

Saturn truly is one of the most odd and beautiful beasts in this solar system. Probably my second favorite planet. I’m still unfairly partial to Earth.

@17 Todd

I suspect the reason is that the actual object of focus in this picture appears to be Epimetheus (the tiny moon). Due to Cassini’s distance and the focus not being on the rings themselves, it makes the rings look a lot smoother than they are. If you look at some of the other photos in the article John linked to, you can see the imperfections in the rings that your eye is expecting.

kaellinn18 @18
A lot of that also depends on the part of the rings you look at. If I had to guess, that looks like the A Ring in the frame, which is pretty smooth in structure — you can see slight waves stirred up by the moons and the change on either side of the Encke Division (the big gap in the frame), but those are subtle. The Cassini Division, B Ring and C Ring (all interior to the A Ring) all have much finer structure, and tend to be pictured more to show that. The F ring has lots of structure, but it’s too narrow to see in this image.

All of the objects pictured are far enough away that the camera is focused at infinity. That’s generally the case for astronomy. Titan looks fuzzy because it is, not because of the camera — it’s got a very extended atmosphere.

I’m a grad student at Cornell, and work with Saturn’s rings, though not with the images.

I had to come back here for the ‘intellectual’ commentary that didn’t appear to exist in the comments below the pics… Thanks so much for posting… too cool…

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