"Skimming over the rings of Saturn, a sightseeing craft gazes at the chevrons on the outer edge of the B ring. Here, small moons compress ring particles as they stream by into waves of material, some 2.5 km high. In the background are (L to R) Mimas, Tethys, and Enceladus, with a tiny moon embedded in the rings just left of center. Note the geysers pouring from the south pole of Enceladus, a phenomenon discovered by Cassini's imaging team.
As an artist, I've always had a love/hate relationship with those rings. All those concentric circles are enough to drive anyone crazy! But their dazzling nature, as brought out by Cassini's magical images, is just too much to pass up. For this view, I had to actually create a small sculpture--with help from Carolyn Porco--to duplicate the geometry of pointed shadows and curvilinear forms before I truly understood what those undulating fins looked like."
Tradigital Painting (acrylic on canvas, augmented digitally)
"This piece is an illustration of a theory of Saturn ring formation that was published in Nature and written by Robin Canup. A large Titan-sized moon made of ice and silicate enters Saturn's Roche limit and is torn apart. The silicate core is consumed by Saturn, but the ice remains, eventually forming the beautiful rings we see today. This is a 3D image that went through several iterations. Carolyn Porco was instrumental in providing the technical data that was needed to produce the final piece."
"Cassini just before the start of the Saturn Orbit Insertion burn. The spacecraft is turning itself to the correct burn attitude. To better show instruments and individual components, the spacecraft is rendered without most of its thermal protection blanket."
"Saturn's blue winter hemisphere is visible through the Cassini division. Also prominent is the rings' strong opposition effect, with the very bright opposition highlight visible near the outer edge of the B ring. The field of view is 50 degrees."
"Sunlight is heavily reddened as it is filtered by Earth's atmosphere, an effect obvious from the ground as well from space. This painting shows possible lighting effects upon the rings along the edge of the planet's shadow; of similar reddening in the sunlight filtered through the atmosphere of Saturn. Oil on gessoed masonite panel."
"I endeavor to incorporate the latest research from the scientific literature wherever possible, and this can provide the impetus for the creation of a piece. Half the fun for me is rendering those things that cannot or have not yet been directly imaged but are suspected to exist -- and this is forever changing as new results and observations become available: the art then becomes a commentary on and record of the march of scientific progress.
For this piece, I thought it would be interesting to try and depict what particles in the C-ring might possibly look like.
From a personal, artistic point of view, what makes the Saturn system so exciting are the fantastic opportunities for portraying the effects of direct and reflected light, as amply demonstrated in the many beautiful images coming to us from Cassini. For us artists, when Cassini's mission is over there will be a mind boggling wealth of material to inspire our creativity and spur us on to portray ever more exotic natural wonders."
"Just about every space artist has tried his or her hand at a view of Saturn's rings from within. I decided to give my rendering a twist. The painting was inspired by a 4000-year-old Olmec sculpture of a wrestler, whose stony face reminded me of an asteroid. His face is upside-down in the lower left corner. (Card and print available through Novaspace.)"