CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Captain's Log
November 29, 2004

Nature's Canvas

Now, far from Saturn, as we prepare for our next whirlwind fling into the inner Saturnian system, we look back on the vistas we have been treated to so far.

Insertion into orbit in late June brought us unprecedented and celebrated views of the rings, and placed us on a long looping orbit, back into the direction from which we came.

Distant images of Saturn and its rings and moons were all there was to be had until our retreat from the planet came to a halt and we fell inwards once again, under the gravitational pull of the planet, for our next swing by the rings and moons in late October. That second passage brought us a very close encounter with Titan -- our first of many -- and history-making glimpses of Titanian geography that still elude explanation and will for some time. It also brought us new and sweeping views of the rings.

Looking here and there as we made our way through the course of Saturn's moons, we spied Enceladus, Dione, Rhea, and Tethys as never before ... mere tastes of what is in store for the coming year.

Then, in early November, as we began our journey back out again, over our shoulder we caught sight of Mimas against the cool, blue-streaked backdrop of Saturn's shadow-draped northern hemisphere.

Salves for the soul are these images, the gifts of one extraordinary machine.

In just two weeks, we dive in for another scraping encounter with Titan, more close views of the rings, and a passage by Dione closer than we've ever been.

This is life in orbit around Saturn and it is good.

Carolyn Porco
Cassini Imaging Team Leader
Space Science Institute
Boulder, CO

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