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July 19, 2010 - Depth Perception

Depth Perception This image by the Cassini spacecraft could easily pass for minimalist abstract art, but the simple lines and curves of the composition belie an elegance grounded in the complex. Saturn’s icy moon Rhea, its second largest with a diameter of 949 miles, reveals a variety of impact features on its dramatically illuminated surface. The bold horizontal line is a nearly edge-on view of Saturn’s magnificent ring system, reduced to a plane that seems ready to disappear. The rings begin over 200,000 miles behind Rhea and reach 40,000 miles back toward the planet. The canvas for this masterpiece is the cream-colored cloud tops of majestic Saturn itself, more than 300,000 miles beneath Rhea. This Saturn family portrait was taken by Cassini in 2007 when it was approximately 770,000 miles from Rhea.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

Weekly Calendar

July 19-25, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 19

1846: Edward Pickering born
1967: Explorer 35 launched
1985: NASA selects Christa McAuliffe as first teacher to travel in space

Moon phase Tuesday 20

1969: Apollo 11 astronauts become first humans walk on Moon
1976: Viking 1 lands on Mars
1999: Liberty Bell 7 capsule recovered from Atlantic Ocean after 38 years

Moon phase Wednesday 21

1961: Liberty Bell 7 suborbital flight; capsule sinks in Atlantic Ocean
1969: Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle lifts off from Moon

Moon phase Thursday 22

1784: Friedrich Bessel born
1994: Last fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts Jupiter

Moon phase Friday 23

1972: Landsat 1 launched
1999: STS-93 Columbia launched, deploys Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Moon phase Saturday 24

Jupiter appears stationary

1950: First rocket launched from Cape Canaveral
1969: Apollo 11 crew returns to Earth
1975: Apollo-Soyuz crew returns to Earth, last US splashdown
2009: Canaries Great Telescope dedicated

Moon phase Sunday 25

Full Moon 9:37 PM ET

1978: Viking 2 orbiter ceases operation
1984: Svetlana Savitskaya becomes first woman to walk in space
2000: Zvezda Service Module docks with International Space Station

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.