Image description: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this image of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles away.
Pictures of Earth from the outer solar system are rare because from that distance, Earth appears very close to our sun. A camera’s sensitive detectors can be damaged by looking directly at the sun, just as a human being can damage his or her retina by doing the same. Cassini was able to take this image because the sun had temporarily moved behind Saturn from the spacecraft’s point of view and most of the light was blocked.
View more images of Earth from Cassini.
Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
Image description: Massive cyclones, hundreds of times stronger than the most giant hurricanes on Earth, roil and swirl on the north pole of the planet Saturn. Taken from a distance of 250,000 miles by the Cassini orbiter, this view was aided by sunlight creeping over the north pole as the Saturnian seasons change.
Unlike hurricanes on Earth that are powered by the ocean’s heat and water, Saturn’s cyclones have no body of water at their bases. Yet, the eyes of Saturn’s and Earth’s storms look strikingly similar.
Just as condensing water in clouds on Earth powers hurricane vortices, the heat released from the condensing water in Saturnian thunderstorms deep down in the atmosphere may be the primary power source energizing the vortex.
See more from Cassini and Saturn.
Photo from NASA.
Image description: The Cassini spacecraft took this photo of Saturn in December 2011 from a distance of approximately 1.3 million miles away. The scale of the image is about 77 miles per pixel.
Three of Saturn’s moons, Tethys, Enceladus, and Pandora, are shown. Tethys is on the right of the image, below the rings. Enceladus is on the left, below the rings. Pandora is barely visible. It appears as a small grey speck above the rings on the extreme left edge of the image.
Photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Video description: A music video featuring images of Saturn, its rings, and its moons that were captured by the robotic Cassini spacecraft. The images are shown together in the order of their capture, resulting in numerous breath-taking time-lapse sequences.
Filmmaker Chris Abbas assembled the images to make the film, and he added the music track “2 Ghosts” by Nine Inch Nails (used under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution Share Alike license).
The thin vertical lines at the beginning are Saturn’s rings, seen nearly edge-on. The moons Titan, Phoebe, Mimas, Epimetheus, and Iapetus are also featured. Learn more about Cassini and its discoveries.
The images within the film are courtesy of NASA, which shares images and other data with the public through the Planetary Data System.
Saturn Radio Waves
In this audio clip, Saturn’s radio waves sound like music playing in a haunted house.
Sound clip from NASA