The Cassini crew has offered us a holiday gift: this incredible mosaic image of a backlit Saturn.
On Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, the spacecraft was deliberately positioned within Saturn’s shadow, a perfect location from which to look back at Saturn in the direction of the sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet.
[…] Of all the many glorious images we have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those we have taken from Saturn’s shadow. They unveil a rare splendor seldom seen anywhere else in our solar system.
This one is our special gift to you, the people of the world, in this holiday season that brings to a close the year 2012. We fervently hope it serves as a reminder that we humans, though troubled and warlike, are also the dreamers, thinkers, and explorers inhabiting one achingly beautiful planet, yearning for the sublime, and capable of the magnificent. We hope it reminds you to protect our planet with all your might and cherish the life it so naturally sustains.
From all of us on Cassini, the happiest of holidays to everyone.
Thank you, Cassini geeks, we love it! I’ve already installed it on my monitor, and wow. It’s impressive on a big screen.
Click the image above to go directly to the 4.6MB JPEG file, or head to the download page if you prefer other file sizes or types.