NASA Photo Gets Up Close And Personal … With Saturn

Depite popular technology in car development, Saturn is still a planet. Shocking, isn’t it? And NASA has photos to prove it.

NASA has unveiled amazing new views of the planet Saturn giving us a new glimpse of its moons, rings and turbulent atmosphere as seen by the spacecraft Cassini. The first photo, released on December 24, clearly shows Saturn’s south pole and distinctive rings. It also seems to hold some new surprises.

The shadow of Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons, appears in the photo as a small dark spot slightly to the left and above the planet’s south pole. Mimas is known for a huge crater dominating one of its hemispheres, leading some “Star Wars” fans to compare its look to the “Death Star.” Could there be a forest with a force field generator under all that gas on the surface of “Endor”, er, Saturn?

Cassini also got a great shot of Janus, another of the more than 60 known moons of Saturn, in the top left section of the image. The small satellite is evasive to the eye, but appears to be a tiny white dot just over the planet’s north pole. Though NASA released the photo of Saturn, Mimas and Janus this week, Cassini actually took the picture in August. Since then, scientists polished the image to highlight its features, says

Another raw, unprocessed photo released December 26 shows Saturn’s turbulent surface in extreme detail. Violent storms raging among Saturn’s cloud tops appear as delicate whorls and swirls. Clearly a fantastic vacation spot for the enterprising extra terrestrial.

Saturn surface

The Cassini spacecraft has logged more than 3.8 billion miles since its departure alongside the Huygens lander in 1997. Cassini arrived in 2004 and dropped European-built landers onto the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. The Cassini – Huygens mission is a joint project involving NASA, the Italian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency, according to Yahoo News.

During its trek through the stars, Cassini has taken more than 300,000 images of Saturn and its moons. The spacecraft is due to stay on a program that runs through 2017.