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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 08:26 IST

IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Titan, Saturn's largest moon, appears to be strung like a bead on the planet's rings, which cast shadows onto the southern hemisphere of the gas giant in a new image from Cassini spacecraft.

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Image: The Cassini spacecraft views Saturn with a selection of its moons in varying sizes. Titan is in the center of the image, while smaller moon Enceladus is on the far right.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Faint but exquisite detail in the gas giant's upper atmosphere paints a tranquil scene.

A thin band of bright white ammonia ice clouds is etched into the planet's disc towards the top of the image while clouds dotted below are faded scars of a huge storm that raged across the planet through much of 2011.


Image: Titan's atmosphere makes Saturn's largest moon look like a fuzzy orange ball in this natural color view from the Cassini spacecraft.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Shadows cast by Saturn's iconic rings appear painted onto the planet's southern hemisphere in two thick bands broken by thin, lighter stripes, reflecting the intricacies of the individual rings.


Image: The colorful globe of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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As Saturn's seasons progress towards northern hemisphere summer, the rings will appear to grow wider and wider.


Image: Saturn's rings cut across this view of the planet's largest moon, Titan.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Meanwhile, Titan appears to hang on the planet's rings like a bead on a necklace. The effect is a result of the line-of-sight viewing position; Titan orbits Saturn at an average distance of 1, 221,870 km.



Image: Saturn's rings cut across an eerie scene that is ruled by Titan's luminous crescent and globe-encircling haze, broken by the small moon Enceladus, whose icy jets are dimly visible at its south pole.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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The moon is an enigma in itself: cloaked in a thick nitrogen-rich atmosphere, it is the only moon in the Solar System that has a dense atmosphere.


Image: Encircled in purple stratospheric haze, Titan appears as a softly glowing sphere in this colourised image
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Lakes of liquid hydrocarbons pool on its surface, and an active methane cycle plays a similar role to Earth's water cycle, complete with clouds and methane rain.


Image: NASA's Cassini spacecraft chronicles the change of seasons as it captures clouds concentrated near the equator of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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IN PHOTOS: Saturn's rings get an AMAZING bead!

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Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004 and is now in its second extended mission phase, the Cassini Solstice Mission, which will continue until 2017.


Image: The Cassini spacecraft views the cratered surface of Saturn's moon Tethys in front of the hazy orb of the planet's largest moon, Titan
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.


Image: A crescent Titan
Photographs: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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Source: ANI