back to article NASA's Cassini snaps pic inside Saturn's ring – peace among the stars

NASA's Cassini probe has made its first dive inside Saturn's rings, skimming about 1,900 miles (3,000KM) over the surface of the gas giant's stormy atmosphere. America's space boffins briefly lost contact with their craft during its descent on Wednesday. That's because the dish antenna used to phone home to Earth acted as a …

  1. arctic_haze Silver badge

    A colour photo, please

    or it did not happen!

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      Unhappy

      Re: A colour photo, please

      Cassini's cameras, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), provide far more information than consumer-level digital cameras because they're sensitive to all wavelengths of light between the near-ultraviolet and the near-infrared, a range greater than typical visible-light cameras. Each camera has a variety of colour filters mounted on wheels that select the range of wavelengths, or colour, for the camera to record with each image.

      So there is no time to make (false) colour photo's Saturn's surface.

      1. John Gamble
        Happy

        Re: A colour photo, please

        Also, quite frankly I find the B&W photos a lot more compelling. There are a few color shots on the Cassini website, and they're just not as interesting.

        My computers have a dozen or so JPEGs from Cassini as desktop images, all of them black & white.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    once a week updates?? ahh .. i see what's happened

    .. Talk Talk are the ISP and still rebuilding their systems??

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Close. Too close.

    "The probe passed within about 200 miles (300KM) of the innermost ring of Saturn during its trip, at a speed of 77,000MPH (124,000KPH)."

    I have relatives that live within that distance and it's too damn close, I tell you! Cassini and I need a little more room for safety, and for science. Although, at that speed, I can get there, visit, and be back in about 2.5/1000th of a second. By my python3 integer maths.

    1. agurney

      Re: Close. Too close.

      ".. I can get there, visit, and be back in about 2.5/1000th of a second. By my python3 integer maths."

      I can understand sending a probe to Saturn to play Russian Roulette with its rings, but Integer maths that returns 2.5 as a fraction?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best ever unmanned space probe?

    This. Or perhaps Voyager 2.

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: Best ever unmanned space probe?

      "This. Or perhaps Voyager 2."

      Rosetta/Philae. Landing (almost) a probe on a f---ing comet, man!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best ever unmanned space probe?

        Yep, not bad Steve. I'm old enough to remember the first (admittedly processed) images of Neptune from Voyager 2, as they were released. Un-freaking-believable. Visited all the giant planets, launched in 1977, still working 40 years later, 114 AU away from the Sun. Stunning achievement, right up there with the very best that humanity has managed.

  5. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Pint

    I'll raise a glass to all boffins involved. To manage that from over a billion Km's. Awesome results. I look forward to the enhanced pics that come from this

    1. Dabooka Silver badge
      Pint

      Seconded

      Reading this stuff never fails to amaze, the sheer achievements being made is simply wonderful

  6. Mark York 3
    Thumb Up

    Probe plunges deep into dark cosmic hole

    & presumably climbed back out, because it started to like it too much.

    "I called for succour in my loneliness, but did anyone come? Did they hell!"

  7. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Can we please not have "artists impressions" as the headline images in stories like this?

    They distract from the actual science.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Ring burn

    Way to go Cassini

  9. Louis Schreurs BEng
    Megaphone

    Murrica

    "In the grandest tradition of exploration, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare,"

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Murrica

      Glorious, isn't it. When I read this I imagined it as a William Shatner voiceover.

      1. Erewhon

        Re: Murrica

        "I imagined it as a William Shatner voiceover."

        I imagined Carl Sagan...

        1. Axman

          Re: Murrica

          "I imagined it as a William Shatner voiceover."

          "I imagined Carl Sagan..."

          and I imagined Barbara Windsor...

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Murrica

      I thought the grandest tradition of exploration was in virtually wiping out the native population. I don't think Cassini has managed that yet.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Murrica

        Have a little patience, it could still accidentally wipe out some tiny civilisation eeking out a meagre existence on a single balloon floating in Saturn's turbulent atmosphere. On the balloon a people who finally managed to steer their craft to the higher, more sunlit heights, only to be wiped out by some huge piece of metal hurtling towards the depths the poor Saturnians had so recently escaped. The last thing they heard was this piece of metal screaming "Geronimooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!"

        In an infinite universe, anything is possible, especially if someone is faffing around with an infinite improbability drive. Just look what happened to the Poghrils in the Pansel system

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Murrica

      Not to forget that Cassini is actually a collaboration between NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency.

  10. Sartori

    Incredible, well done all!

    Cassini really has been a remarkable spacecraft, it will be a little sad when it meets its demise. Congratulations to everyone on the team who made it such a huge success!

  11. the Jim bloke Bronze badge
    Alien

    "No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before.

    no 'human' spacecraft..

    FTFY

  12. Gobhicks

    Awesome, but one question...

    ... if, as reported elsewhere, the gap between the D rings and the cloud tops is 1500 miles, how can she have passed within 200 miles of the innermost ring but no closer than 1900 miles above the atmosphere?

    1. cray74 Silver badge

      Re: Awesome, but one question...

      ... if, as reported elsewhere, the gap between the D rings and the cloud tops is 1500 miles, how can she have passed within 200 miles of the innermost ring but no closer than 1900 miles above the atmosphere?

      According to the font of all human knowledge, Saturn's equatorial radius is 60,268 kilometers. Meanwhile, the D-ring starts at 66,900 kilometers from Saturn's center.

      This means the gap between the D-ring and cloud tops is 6,732km (~4000 miles), not 1,500 miles. There's space for the claimed passage.

      1. Gobhicks

        Re: Awesome, but one question...

        Many thanks. Clearly I have been a victim of Fake News, as well as a frankly inexplicable downvote.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    Awesome probe, awesome mission, awesome results!

    This is just one of the best missions ever, especially if you included the Huygens probe landing on Titan. Great NASA-ESA-ASI collaboration. I'll eagerly await new pics, and of course raise a glass to all who made this possible

  14. Fizzle
    Alien

    Deflector Shield? That's a first!

    I think this may be the first time a deflector shield has been employed in reality and not in a TV show. Someone may correct me perhaps.

    All they need now is somehow to be able to divert power to the deflector to increase protection and then they can really plough a path through the asteroid belt without spending years going around it.

    We're a long way from "Passengers" but it looks like we're getting there.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in 2000 and goatse.cx wants it's meme back

  16. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
    Pint

    Squeezing...

    Squeezing Cassini through a relatively narrow gap at 124,000kph from over a billion kms away. Some trick that.

    I know some dart players (incl me) who can't be that accurate from 7 feet 9 1/4 inches. One for the boffins. PP

  17. MT Field

    Simply tremendous

    Does that make it the fastest man-made thing ever?

    1. cray74 Silver badge

      Re: Simply tremendous

      Does that make it the fastest man-made thing ever?

      Nope, it's topped by a number of other spacecraft. Helios 2 is called the fastest spacecraft and reached 152,000mph (243,000kph) vs Cassini's 77,000mph (124,000kph). To pick another (not second fastest, just convenient): Juno's regular dives over Jupiter take it to 90,000mph (144,000kph).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bravo!

    More and more, science reality aided by stupendous technology is making the science reality of the not too distant past, and science fiction, appear simplistic and foolish. This is true across the entire spectrum of the physical and biological sciences. It's a pity that so relatively few are well enough educated to understand how these things really work.

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