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Methane On Saturn Captured With Cassini

First Posted: Feb 02, 2016 10:45 AM EST

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has captured remarkable image of Saturn and its abundant methane. Saturn's bright and dark bands in the image are an indication of methane that is present in the planet's atmosphere.

The wavelengths of lights are absorbed by Saturn's methane. The dark areas are regions where light travels deep into the planet's atmosphere before reflecting and scattering off of clouds and then exiting the atmosphere. The deeper the light travels, the more it gets absorbed by methane, which creates the dark areas.

Saturn's moon Dione is visible in the image, where it hangs below the rings at a distance of 698 miles (1,123 kilometers) across. Shadows of Saturn's rings are also visible in the image of the southern hemisphere.

This image was captured on Sept. 6, 2015 by the wide-angle camera on the Cassini spacecraft at a distance of about 819,000 miles (1.32 million kilometers) away from Saturn. Dione is small, but it was brightened to improve its visibility.

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