Saturn is Groovy: NASA Image of the Day

By Last Updated: March 17, 2015Views: 3152

Breaking news! The Cassini spacecraft has determined that the rings around Saturn are actually an enormous vinyl LP! A new mission has been announced to send a giant stylus and needle to Saturn to determine what album it is. Theories as to what “the music of the sphere” might actually be are numerous but most assume it is some kind of Prog-Rock art piece or a classical arrangement.

Others however claim that it is most likely some Grateful Dead, probably a live set from Hampton or Winterland, because come on man that stuff is like, timeless and cosmic. This comment was met with several NASA officials simply nodding their heads slowly and saying “dude” in long, drawn-out low tones.

One unnamed astronomer postulated that the music could be something ambient along the lines of Yani or Vangelis and was immediately fired.

Representatives of the Hipster community, while at first seeming rather impressed, have since issued a statement that Saturn is just “all full of itself” and should really stop pretending. “And anyway,” one representatives said while lighting a American Spirit, “no matter what the music turns out to be I probably have a first press in my library somewhere,” then added, “Whatever,” while blowing smoke at the press and slumping off.

Wait! This just in…turns out I don’t know what I’m talking about and everything I just reported was actually a dream I once had after eating an extra cheese and double peperoni pizza at midnight before going to bed. Also, I may be drunk. This last bit is still unconfirmed and needs more investigation.

The real story is below:

Groovy Rings of Saturn

From afar, Saturn’s rings look like a solid, homogenous disk of material. But upon closer examination from Cassini, we see that there are varied structures in the rings at almost every scale imaginable.

Structures in the rings can be caused by many things, but often times Saturn’s many moons are the culprits. The dark gaps near the left edge of the A ring (the broad, outermost ring here) are caused by the moons (Pan and Daphnis) embedded in the gaps, while the wider Cassini division (dark area between the B ring and A ring here) is created by a resonance with the medium-sized moon Mimas (which orbits well outside the rings). Prometheus is seen orbiting just outside the A ring in the lower left quadrant of this image; the F ring can be faintly seen to the left of Prometheus.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 15 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 8, 2015.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 566,000 miles (911,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 37 degrees. Image scale is 34 miles (54 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit or . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute | Courtesty of

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  1. Kim March 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    ~Disappointed that it was all a dream as I was hoping that the vinyl would turn out to be Heavy Horses (flipped to the superior B side, of course)

    • Paul Matthew Carr March 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Yes, sadly it was just a dream…or was it!

      And while I agree side two is indeed superior, side one is pretty fantastic as well. No Lullaby? Moths? Journeyman? Its just great all the way through.

      Thanks for the comment.

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