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Seeing Saturn. (Astronomy).

After 5 years of interplanetary travel, the Saturn-bound Cassini mission has obtained its first image of the ringed planet. Released Nov. 1, the image was taken when Cassini was 285 million kilometers from Saturn--nearly twice the distance between Earth and the sun. The image shows the shadow of the planet falling across its rings.

"Seeing the picture makes our science-planning work suddenly seem more real," says Alfred S. McEwen of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Cassini is scheduled to begin orbiting Saturn on July 1, 2004. During a subsequent 4-year tour, the craft will study the composition of the planet itself, its rings, and its moons. On Jan. 14, 2005, Cassini is scheduled to release a probe that is scheduled to parachute through the thick atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Astronomers suspect that Titan's surface contains lakes or oceans of methane, a possible building block of life.--R. C.
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Title Annotation:Cassini mission transmits images of Saturn
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 7, 2002
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