Cassini Liked It So He Put A Ring On It

Saturn in natural color, photographed by Cassini, 2004

Saturn in natural color, photographed by Cassini, 2004

If you've seen a recent photo of Saturn (such as the one above), it's likely from the Cassini spacecraft. The 10th anniversary of the Cassini spacecraft reaching the Saturn system (the planet and its moons) occurred on June 30th.  The spacecraft is named after Giovanni Cassini, an accomplished scientist who, among other things, noted a gap between the rings of Saturn now known as the Cassini Division. This is the dark area within the rings of the above photo.

Ten years later, and our understanding of our system has been greatly enhanced by the discoveries of the Cassini spacecraft. Check out an infographic followed by the top 10 accomplishments of the program:

Below are the top accomplishments from the Cassini spacecraft in the past 10 years:

-- The Huygens probe makes first landing on a moon in the outer solar system (Titan)

-- Discovery of active, icy plumes on the Saturnian moon Enceladus

-- Saturn’s rings revealed as active and dynamic -- a laboratory for how planets form

-- Titan revealed as an Earth-like world with rain, rivers, lakes and seas

-- Studies of Saturn's great northern storm of 2010-2011

-- Studies reveal radio-wave patterns are not tied to Saturn’s interior rotation, as previously thought

-- Vertical structures in the rings imaged for the first time

-- Study of prebiotic chemistry on Titan

-- Mystery of the dual, bright-dark surface of the moon Iapetus solved

-- First complete view of the north polar hexagon and discovery of giant hurricanes at both of Saturn's poles

Check out the infograph below for a nice summary:

Check out the top Saturn images selected by the Cassini team!