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Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Saturn’s rings, made of countless icy particles, form a translucent veil in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Saturn’s tiny moon Pan, about 17 miles (28 kilometers) across, orbits within the Encke Gap in the A ring. Beyond, we can see the arc of Saturn itself, its cloud tops streaked with dark shadows cast by the rings.
This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 12, 2016, at a distance of approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Pan.
Source / Image Courtesy
No other planet in our solar system has rings as splendid as Saturn’s. They are so expansive and bright that they were discovered as soon as humans began pointing telescopes at the night sky.
Galileo Galilei was the first person known to view the heavens through a telescope. He secured his status as an astronomical collosus when he discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons in 1610. Saturn is nearly twice as far from the sun as Jupiter, and yet Saturn’s rings are so big and brilliant that Galileo discovered them the same year he spotted Jupiter’s moons.
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