New Cassini Moon Images Show Spacecraft Camera is in Top Form
1 Sep 1999
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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New images and brief movies of the Moon, taken by the camera system on NASA's Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft when it flew through the Earth-Moon system two weeks ago, are available at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/ and http://ciclops.lpl.arizona.edu/
The black-and-white lunar images were among a sequence taken of the Moon by Cassini's sophisticated camera during the August 17 flyby of Earth. Cassini, launched in October 1997, flew past Earth to gain enough energy to reach distant Saturn in 2004, where the spacecraft will make detailed studies for four years.
"These are the first images taken by Cassini for both photogenic and scientific purposes, and they illustrate that the cameras are functioning beautifully," said Dr. Carolyn C. Porco, team leader of the 14-member Cassini imaging team and an associate professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The images released today are a wide-angle movie, a narrow- angle video clip, the Moon in ultraviolet and a "triptych" (a three-paneled composite image) of the Moon. The face of the Moon seen in these images is nearly identical to that seen from Earth.
They were taken from a distance of about 234,000 miles (377,000 kilometers) about 80 minutes prior to Cassini's closest approach to Earth. The lunar images were taken to calibrate the camera system using a familiar and well-studied target. (No images of Earth were planned or taken during Cassini's flyby.)
At Saturn, Cassini's imaging system will search for lightning, investigate the cloud structure and meteorology of Saturn's and Titan's atmospheres, image the surfaces of Saturn's many icy satellites, study the ring system, and peer through the hazy atmosphere of Titan to view that moon's intriguing surface. The camera system is one of a dozen scientific instruments on the spacecraft.
Cassini is a joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency, and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.