NASA gave Mars a brand new rover earlier this year, and apparently the space agency has a gift for earth too. NASA released a stunning backlit photo of Saturn today, which the agency says is its gift to the world this holiday season.
The photo was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. According to Space.com, the spacecraft stitched together a mosaic of 60 images that were taken on October 17 when the spacecraft was sitting in Saturn’s shadow.
“On Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, Cassini was deliberately positioned within Saturn’s shadow, a perfect location from which to look in the direction of the sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet.”
The IB Times notes that the photos were taken during a “high solar phase” and provided researchers with a more detailed look at the atmosphere around the planet. Researchers may appreciate the photo for its enhanced details, but most people will just enjoy it for its beauty.
Carolyn Porco, the head of the Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said:
“This glorious image is our special gift to you, the people of the world, in this holiday season that brings the year 2012 to a close, I fervently hope it serves as a reminder that we humans, though troubled and warlike, are also the dreamers, thinkers, and explorers inhabiting one achingly beautiful planet, yearning for the sublime, and capable of the magnificent.”
Here’s the new NASA Saturn photo.