Ten years ago today, like a great mythological bird rising in brilliant magnificence from its funeral pyre, a mighty Titan IV rocket, equipped to scale the gravity binding it to Earth, leapt with a deafening roar from Cape Canaveral's Launch Pad 40 on a pillar of orange flames, veered gracefully towards the east, and quickly receded into the black of night. The bird was gone, never to return. And it carried a spacecraft destined for a seven-year journey around the inner solar system, through the asteroid belt, across the Jupiter-Saturn divide, into orbit around the ringed planet, and permanently into history.
We Cassini explorers are marking today our Diamond Anniversary ... ten remarkable years of odyssey and discovery, ten years that have tried, challenged and defined us, but above all, ten years that have culminated in our astonishing exploratory adventures in the promised land that is the realm of Saturn.
In celebration, the Cassini Imaging Team is releasing today a large collection of spectacular images, maps, and movies taken by our faithful cameras of some of the most photogenic sights to be found in this sector of the solar system.
Here you will find the shadow-scored, pastel-hued globe of Saturn as it approaches northern spring, colorful Titan peering from behind the rings, telling details on the surfaces of some of Saturn's moons, a map of the surface of Titan updated with newly explored terrain, a never-before-seen sweeping survey of the unilluminated side of Saturn's main rings in natural color, and the view of majestic Saturn, attended by its major inner icy moons, seen from the orbit of Iapetus. You will also catch Prometheus in motion as it gores the F ring, and best of all ... a thrilling documentary of our recent historic flight over the mountain ranges of Iapetus. It is hard to imagine an environment more rich in splendor, more offering of scientific insight, than what we have unveiled at Saturn. We are fortunate to be surrounded by such sublime beauty.
We also mark this special occasion by several new additions to this website. You will now find under "Imaging Diary" a section where images returned by the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and their rings and moons, as well as the "Pale Blue Dot" images of planet Earth, can be found. Comparing the bounty returned by our Cassini cameras at Saturn with that returned by Voyager has never been easier.
And for the golfers among you, we have updated our popular Golf Sector 6 game with a special set of Outer Links. It's tee time at Saturn once again.
To the thousands upon thousands of fellow explorers who have traveled along with us since we departed Earth ten years ago today, who have followed our adventures across the solar system and into orbit around Saturn, and who have since been as awestruck as we have at our findings there, we say "Happy Anniversary! It's been a pleasure flying with you."
Carolyn Porco Cassini Imaging Team Leader CICLOPS Boulder, CO