Saturn In Front Of The Sun: Cassini Spacecraft Captures Breathtaking View Of Ringed Planet (PHOTO)
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This is a photo of Saturn, not an artist's futuristic sci-fi rendition.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which continues to orbit Saturn, captured this picture in 2006 as it floated in the planet's shadow for about 12 hours. The sun illuminates the giant gas mass from behind, giving it a semi-transparent look. Perhaps most stunning is the view of the planet's rings, which appear to glow in the light.
According to NASA, the photo helped scientists discover rings they didn't know existed:
Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the image. Seen in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, at the left, just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.
The photo was recently featured here, as NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day."
During Cassini's time orbiting Saturn, it has captured some stunning shots of the planet. Notably, Cassini sent back pictures and data on a storm that measured aproximately eight times the size of Earth.
The Photo From Saturn's Shadow (via NASA):