Cassini Orbiter Videos: Saturn Flyby
Cassini is currently hanging out near Saturn, conducting various missions with its wide array of instruments (including cameras, radar, magnetometer, cosmic dust analyzer [!], plasma spectrometer, and so on). It launched in 1997, arrived at Saturn in 2004, and since then has sent back some stunning images -- many of which are collected in the video below.
Cassini has seven primary objectives, according to Wikipedia:
1. Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn
2. Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object
3. Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus's leading hemisphere
4. Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere
5. Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn's atmosphere at cloud level
6. Study the time variability of Titan's clouds and hazes
7. Characterize Titan's surface on a regional scale
What's missing from this list? "8. Make awesome videos of frickin' Saturn!"
In the video below, various flyby images are composited together (with edits and tweaks, but no 3D CGI) as part of an IMAX film project in production by Stephen Van Vuuren. It's so "clean" looking that it looks fake, but it's based real images of Saturn -- and it's not even complete; this is just a test clip. Van Vuuren writes: "This is still a work-in-progress and it's an art film, not a science film, but as new image data comes down I will tweak this shot for improved accuracy." Looks pretty good to me.
The most impressive bit starts at 57 seconds in, and is described as "Camera Test 1 (Spring 2010). 5.6k frame resolution 32-bit color. First IMAX resolution, natural light and color full fly-through of Cassini images." Um. IMAX video of a flyby of Saturn? Two tickets, please!