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See Saturn's Cloud Through Infrared Lens

Aug 11, 2016 05:59 AM EDT
Cassini Spacecraft Sends Picture Of Backlit Saturn
The camera aboard the Cassini spacecraft used it infrared imaging capability to capture the clouds on Saturn.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI via Getty Images)

Scientists and researchers use different techniques in order to analyze and study images of celestial bodies taken by spaceborne and ground-based cameras. One of which is the use an infrared lens to produce an image that highlights certain characteristics of objects in space.

Normal photographs taken of Saturn are usually black and white. But when infrared was used to highlight the photographs, a more detailed, diverse and stunning appearance was produced.

"Filters like these, which are sensitive to absorption and scattering of sunlight by methane in Saturn's atmosphere, have been useful throughout Cassini's mission for determining the structure and depth of cloud features in the atmosphere," a NASA official said in a press release. With the infrared lens, layers and textures of Saturn's surface are more visible compared to the usual black and white images taken of the planet.

Kevin M. Gilll, a NASA engineer and an amateur space imaging enthusiast, did the manipulation of the image that resulted in the highlight of Saturn's clouds. But the original photo was captured by the Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera capable of capturing infrared light at several nanometer ranges at 750, 727 and 619, according to Gizmodo.

The visual spectrum aids the scientists and researchers in further understanding the attributes and structure of Saturn's clouds. The photograph also allows scientists to see how Saturn reacts to sunlight and how it is linked to its methane-rich atmosphere.

The Cassini mission using the camera aboard the spacecraft managed to collect valuable data in the last few months including the controversial "bent" on its rings creating a warp or distorted ring and the shrinking shadow of Saturn that is casting over the ring. While Saturn's moon Europa and Titan are considered a good place to look for signs of life.

Currently, the Cassini-Huygens mission is exploring Saturn, its rings and moons in a joint project by NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency.


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