NASA sends greeting card with images from Saturn and its moons

Dec. 24, 2013 at 3:30 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- NASA says images of Saturn and its moons from the Cassini spacecraft are appropriate for the holidays as they resemble Christmas ornaments suspended in space.

Saturn and two of its most fascinating moons, Titan and Enceladus, are dressed and dazzling in this special package assembled by Cassini's imaging team, the space agency reported Monday.

"During this, our 10th holiday season at Saturn, we hope that these images from Cassini remind everyone the world over of the significance of our discoveries in exploring such a remote and beautiful planetary system," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "Happy holidays from all of us on Cassini."

Enceladus is a white, glittering snowball of a moon, famous for the nearly 100 geysers spread across its south polar region that spout tiny icy particles into space.

Natural-color images of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, peer through the moon's hazy, orange atmosphere to show dark, splotchy features in the polar regions of the moon -- lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane for which the moon is renowned.

An image of Saturn resembles a holiday ornament in a wide-angle image overlooking its north pole, bringing into view the hexagonal jet stream and rapidly spinning polar vortex that reside there, NASA said.

"Spectacular images like these highlight that Cassini has given us the gift of knowledge, which we have been so excited to share with everyone," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

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