NASA Spacecraft Captures Spectacular Photos of Saturn And Titan, Show Seasonal Shifts On The Ringed Planet [PHOTOS]

on September 01 2012 2:41 AM

Scientists have released spectacular photos of the ringed planet Saturn and its largest moon Titan captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

NASA said that the images, unveiled Wednesday, show spectacular colors. The package combines six images - two each of red, green and blue spectral filters. The images were taken on May 6, 2012, as Cassini flew about 483,000 miles from Titan, Discovery News reported.

One of the images captured the changing hues of Saturn's northern and southern hemispheres as they pass from one season to the next, while another one captured Titan passing in front of Saturn, as well as the planet's changing colors.

As Spcae.com noted that Titan is 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers) wide and larger than Mercury. "The edge-on ring system forms a thin line directly behind the huge moon while its shadow projects a series of dark bands onto the planet's southern half."

"Upon Cassini's arrival at Saturn eight years ago, Saturn's northern winter hemisphere was an azure blue," NASA said in a statement. "Now that winter is encroaching on the planet's southern hemisphere and summer on the north, the color scheme is reversing: blue is tinting the southern atmosphere and is fading from the north."

According to Cassini scientists, the other three images depict the newly discovered south polar vortex in the atmosphere of Titan.

"Cassini has been in orbit now for the last eight years, and despite the fact that we can't know exactly what the next five years will show us, we can be certain that whatever it is will be wondrous," said Carolyn Porco, the imaging team lead based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Launched in 1997, Cassini went into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. It is in its second mission extension, known as the Solstice Mission, and one of its main goals is to analyze seasonal changes in the Saturn system. 

NASA Spacecraft Captures Spectacular Photos of Saturn And Titan

A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA Spacecraft Captures Spectacular Photos of Saturn And Titan

Saturn's rings obscure part of Titan's colorful visage in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA Spacecraft Captures Spectacular Photos of Saturn And Titan

NASA's Cassini spacecraft looks toward the night side of Saturn's largest moon and sees sunlight scattering through the periphery of Titan's atmosphere and forming a ring of color. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA Spacecraft Captures Spectacular Photos of Saturn And Titan

The recently formed south polar vortex stands out in the color-swaddled atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, in this natural color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

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