Cassini flies close to Saturn

Here are some pictures that Cassini took a few days ago (Credit: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):

As you can see, they’re not all that impressive … except:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is giving earthlings their closest-ever views of Saturn’s swirled atmosphere and its massive hurricane, beaming a trove of images and data back to Earth after the craft made its first dive between Saturn and its rings Wednesday.

This is part of Cassini’s Grand Finale and the first of its dives close to Saturn. The pictures aren’t impressive but they give new information on Saturn.

A moon emerging from a moon

Here’s a nice picture of one of Saturn’s moons (Enceladus) emerging from behind another one (Dione) or perhaps it’s starting to disappear behind it. Anyway there’s some moons (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute):

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Dione and a heron

I’m not sure which of these pictures is more unlikely:

1, A heron on the Malden River near the end of the above ground portion:

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2,  Saturn’s moon Dione, as captured by the Cassini spacecraft (those are Saturn’s rings that cross behind the moon; Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute):

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A selfie of the Earth and Saturn

It’s time for some more pictures. First, you can never go wrong with Saturn (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute):

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And here’s a nice picture taken over the Grand Canyon, sorry about my thumb (Credit: NASA astronaut Terry Virts):

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A hexagon on Saturn

This is great (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute):

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Yes, that’s a hexagon formed by a jet stream around the north pole of Saturn. Now where’s that octagon?

Saturn from above

The government shutdown is over, so here’s a picture of Saturn put together from pictures taken October 10 by Cassini (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic):

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Pioneer 11

I’m a couple days late, but this is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Pioneer 11. This was a low budget project in preparation of the Voyagers, but it still gathered important information and some nice pictures. Such as this one of Jupiter (Credit: NASA Ames):

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and this one of Saturn (Credit: NASA Ames):

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And here’s a completely different picture, the mountains of Alaska (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Christy Hansen):

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