National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Cassini's Galactic Aspirations
Cassini's Galactic Aspirations (click to enlarge)

Cassini's Galactic Aspirations
Date: 13 May 2005

Cassini briefly turned its gaze from Saturn and its rings and moons to marvel at the Carina Nebula, a brilliant region 8,000 light years from our solar system and more than 200 light years across. Nearly every point of light in this image is a star in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The nebula is a region of gas and dust made to glow by the ultraviolet light bursting from bright, hot and extremely massive young stars within. Darker regions in the scene are not devoid of stars; rather, they are areas where dense clouds of dust block the light from background stars.

This image and others like it are taken by the spacecraft from time to time for calibration purposes. Calibration images rarely contain such incredible sights. This one affirms Cassini's position as the farthest, working astronomical observatory ever established around our sun -- our eyes on the cosmos, a billion miles from Earth.

The image was taken using the Cassini wide-angle camera on May 14, 2005. The view is a 68-second, clear-filter exposure.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at .

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2008