IMHO, some of the greatest images of all time have not been taken by a human holding a camera. From the Cassini orbiter of today to the Mariner missions of yesteryear, robotic spacecraft have helped to expland our scientific knowledge and fire our imaginations about the wonders of our local planetary system with images beamed back to the home planet.
This year, Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society decided to put together an advent calendar of her favorite images. Each day for the month of December, she has posted an image to her blog with great commentary and background. The image for December 27th (the calendar is going for the full month) was particularly impressive!
Prometheus (shown above) is a small potato shaped moon orbiting within the F ring of Saturn. Snapped by Cassini (which is in its 13th year of operation), this image was just taken a few days ago on December 26th. Because the CICLOPS imaging team routinely places the raw images taken by the spacecraft on their website, uber-space geeks like Emily can pull down copies, merge, tweak, and apply color in order to treat her fellow uber-space geeks like myself to fantastic images.
There are only a few more days left in the year. I’m curious as to what Emily has in store for us to close out the The Aughts. While you wait, check out this great video that the team at JPL put together highlighting some of Cassini’s other “best of”‘ images: