Colourful Saturn, Getting Closer
As Cassini coasts into the final month of its nearly seven-year trek, the serene majesty of its destination looms ahead. The spacecraft's cameras are functioning beautifully and continue to return stunning views from Cassini's position, 1.2 billion kilometres from Earth and now 15.7 million kilometres from Saturn.
In this narrow angle camera image from 21 May 2004 the ringed planet displays subtle, multi-hued atmospheric bands, coloured by yet undetermined compounds. Cassini mission scientists hope to determine the exact composition of this material.
This image also offers a preview of the detailed survey Cassini will conduct on the planet's dazzling rings. Slight differences in colour denote both differences in ring particle composition and light scattering properties.
Images taken through blue, green and red filters were combined to create this natural color view. The image scale is 132 kilometres per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.