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May 26, 2004 04:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2004-18

Saturn Seen from Far and Near

May 26, 2004: As Saturn grows closer through the eyes of the Cassini spacecraft, which is hurtling toward a rendezvous with the ringed world on June 30 (July 1, Universal Time), both Cassini and the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space READ: Junior version of this article Amazing Space Learn about this story in the Star Witness, a science newspaper available on our sister site, Amazing Space.  Telescope snapped spectacular pictures of the planet and its magnificent rings. Cassini is approaching Saturn at an oblique angle to the Sun and from below the ecliptic plane. Cassini has a very diferent view of Saturn than Hubble's Earth-centered view. For the first time, astronomers can compare views of equal-sharpness of Saturn from two very different perspectives.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. Why are the Hubble pictures of Saturn almost as good as the Cassini spacecraft's full view?


  2. Hubble is a billion miles farther from Saturn than is Cassini. But Hubble has a very high-resolution camera, combined with the telescope's exquisite optics.

  3. 2. Will we still need Hubble views after Cassini arrives?


  4. Cassini will provide dramatic close-up views of the Saturnian system. Hubble will continue to monitor global weather on Saturn and all the outer planets. Hubble complements Cassini's close-up view.

  5. 3. Are the colors real in the Hubble view?


  6. Saturn is illuminated by the Sun. Astronomers know the color of sunlight, so it is easy to deduce how sunlight is reflected by various chemicals in the Saturnian atmosphere. The color is approximately how Saturn would look to the naked eye through a small telescope.

 
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HST Credit: NASA, ESA and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

Cassini Credit: NASA/JPL