Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saturn Images Combined to Recreate Flight of the Cassini Spacecraft

Enthusiasts of space travel are no doubt aware of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories at Caltech. JPL's research has made possible some of the key spaceflights of the 20th century, including the Pioneer Moon program (though Pioneer 4 now orbits the Sun), the Viking to Mars program, and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera installed on the Hubble telescope, among many others.

One of JPL's current missions is the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft's orbit of the planet Saturn, with a separate component designed to parachute through the atmosphere of the planet's moon Titan. NASA's calls the mission "the most ambitious effort in planetary space exploration ever mounted."

As with each of JPL's missions, photographs from Cassini are available at the Lab's online Photojournal, and also through the Cassini mission site, which is highly recommended.

Ambitious filmmaker Stephen van Vuuren is compiling Cassini's still images into an IMAX resolution film. Below is a two-and-one-half minute preview of some of the imagery van Vuuren has compiled. The film speaks for itself, but be sure to watch it in full-screen HD. It's amazing.

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from Stephen van Vuuren via Vimeo.

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