Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More wonderful pictures from Cassini

This picture made today's Astronomy Picture of the Day and has quickly become one of my favourite pictures from the mission thus far. In it, Saturn's rings appear as the thin line as they're being viewed edge on. Just below the ring plane is Enceladus. The angle the sun is making with respect to the rings causes their fine structure to appear in sillouette across Saturn's body.

Another interesting bit to this picture is the bluish haze appearing at the top of Saturn. It's believed this is caused by scattering of light in Saturn's atmosphere in a similar manner to what happens here on Earth to make the sky blue (when it's not being cloudy, like in Kansas...). However, this appears to only happen at Saturn's north pole. This suggests that the clould level is somehow lower here than everwhere else which has left astronomers baffled as to the reason. Additionally, the reason behind Saturn's soft yellow color also remains a mystery.

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