Friday, March 2, 2007

Cronos, Father of Zeus

After more than a year of study, the Cassini spacecraft has been climbing higher and higher (not to mention lower and lower) in its orbital plane with respect to the glorious sixth planet. With each orbit of Saturn, Cassini speeds past the ring plane and the cameras are able to look down (and up) providing images and perspectives high above - about 40 degrees - and below the same.

“Finally, here are the views that we've waited years for,” said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. “Sailing high above Saturn and seeing the rings spread out beneath us like a giant, copper medallion is like exploring an alien world we've never seen before. It just doesn't look like the same place. It's so utterly breath-taking, it almost gives you vertigo.”

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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO.

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