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Wave at Saturn -- Blog by Preston Dyches

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Wave at Saturn -- Blogs

W00076265.jpg was taken on October 17, 2012 and received on Earth October 17, 2012. The camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS.
W00076277.jpg was taken on October 17, 2012 and received on Earth October 17, 2012. The camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS
W00076345.jpg was taken on October 17, 2012 and received on Earth October 17, 2012. The camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS

Get an Advance Look at the Wave at Saturn Images with Cassini’s Raw Image Gallery

By Preston Dyches
July 17, 2013

Preston Dyches
Preston Dyches
The Cassini mission provides fresh images to peruse each time there’s a downlink and images are beamed home by the spacecraft, and you can find them in the Cassini Raw Image Gallery. (A similar resource is available from NASA’s two active Mars rovers, here and here.) Raw images allow everyone to participate in the exploration of the planets in near real-time with the people who work on the missions. Although many of us have become accustomed to this fast, comprehensive access to space mission data, it’s worth pointing out that when Cassini debuted this feature on its website in 2004, it was a revolutionary capability. We think it’s still pretty cool nearly 10 years later.

What do we mean by “raw” images?

Basically, it means they are unprocessed, with none of their brightness, sharpness or other attributes enhanced. There’s no color yet. Images that will later be combined to create mosaics sit tiled before you like puzzle pieces waiting to be assembled. Plus the raws still have all of their “flaws,” like dust donuts, cosmic ray hits and hot pixels. All of the work that goes into making a breathtaking final image is yet to be done. Plus, the raw images are presented in a compressed format that makes it easy for most people to access them.

Even in their unpolished state, you can find some dazzling views in the raw gallery, and even produce your own image mosaics and color composites with a little practice. There are tutorials available from a variety of sources on the web. Whole communities of enthusiasts have sprung up to process, discuss and enjoy these views from space.

Using the Cassini Raw Image Gallery

If you just want to see the latest views, you can click the top arrow to browse the latest 500 images that have been added to the raw gallery. This is good for seeing if images from an observation like the Wave at Saturn event or a flyby of your favorite Saturnian moon have been received and ingested into the gallery for viewing.

Screen grab of the raw search interface
Search for specific targets or observation times. Image captions contain useful information!
You can also perform a search to see images of a specific target, such as the moon Enceladus or Saturn’s B Ring, or images taken during a specific period. For example, if you wanted to see all of the images that were used to create the previous mosaic from within Saturn’s shadow, you would set the camera to “Wide Angle,” target to “Saturn-Rings,” and the observation time to search between Oct. 17 and 18, 2012 (this information is in the image’s caption). If you don’t find what you’re looking for, try casting a wider net -- select a wider date range, or don’t choose a specific camera or target.

Finding Wave at Saturn images in the raw gallery

The images that will make up the new mosaic will not appear online immediately after they are taken. Cassini sends images and other data to Earth during scheduled periods called downlinks where the antennas of the Deep Space Network listen for the spacecraft’s transmission. High-priority observations like the Wave at Saturn images show up in the raw gallery quickly, while lower priority observations can take a couple of days to appear.

Images from the new mosaic should start showing up in the raw gallery on the morning of Saturday, July 20 (nominal time is around 7 a.m. Pacific). If you want to see all of the images from this observation, use the following raw image search settings: Target: Saturn-Rings, Observation time: July 19 to 20, 2013.
(Update, 7/20/13): For best results, try Target: Saturn-Rings and Saturn-ERING, Observation time: July 18 to 20, 2013.
For the narrow-angle images of the Earth and Moon, try Camera: Narrow-angle, Date range: 7/18-7/20).

The finished product to be published by the Cassini team will be painstakingly assembled over the next few weeks into what will likely be one of the most memorable views of the entire mission. Using the raw images, you can get an early glimpse of what Cassini spies on July 19, when we all step outside to wave.

Preston Dyches works in public engagement at JPL. He supported Cassini’s imaging team during the primary mission (2004 to 2008), writing image captions and helping produce many of Cassini’s incredible views.

  • Blend space exploration with reading and writing -- Reading, Writing & Rings!
  • Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Students get involved
  • Cassini Raw Images