Staring at Saturn
NASA's Cassini spacecraft stared at Saturn for nearly 44 hours on April 25 to 27, 2016, to obtain this movie showing just over four Saturn days.
With Cassini's orbit being moved closer to the planet in preparation for the mission's 2017 finale, scientists took this final opportunity to capture a long movie in which the planet's full disk fit into a single wide-angle camera frame.
Visible at top is the giant hexagon-shaped jet stream that surrounds the planet's north pole. Each side of this huge shape is slightly wider than Earth.
The resolution of the 250 natural color wide-angle camera fames comprising this movie is 512 by 512 pixels, rather than the camera's full resolution of 1024 by 1024 pixels. Cassini's imaging cameras have the ability to take reduced-size images like these in order to decrease the amount of data storage space required for an observation.
The spacecraft began acquiring this sequence of images just after it obtained the images to make a three-panel color mosaic (see Saturn, Approaching Northern Summer ).
When it began taking images for this movie sequence, Cassini was 1,847,000 miles (2,973,000 kilometers) from Saturn, with an image scale of 355 kilometers per pixel. When it finished gathering the images, the spacecraft had moved 171,000 miles (275,000 kilometers) closer to the planet, with an image scale of 200 miles (322 kilometers) per pixel.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini.