Cassini image of JupiterNASA’s Cassini spacecraft is beginning to return color
images of Jupiter as it nears the giant planet for a
gravitational assist toward its ultimate destination, Saturn. The
first color image of Jupiter from Cassini was taken from a
distance of about 81 million kilometers (50 million miles) by
Cassini’s camera. It shows the colored latitudinal bands
encircling the planet in the upper atmosphere. Europa, one of
Jupiter’s large moons, is seen at right, casting a shadow onto
the planet.

The image is available from NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., at , and from the web site
of the Cassini Imaging Science team at the University of Arizona,
Tucson, at .

Cassini will pass most closely to Jupiter, at about 10
million kilometers (6 million miles) away, on December 30. Images
taken as it approaches and flies past will be used for studies of
atmospheric dynamics, dark rings and other features of Jupiter.
Some of the studies will be in conjunction with observations by
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which has been orbiting and studying
Jupiter since late 1995.

Additional information about Cassini is available at .

Cassini is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space
Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the Cassini and
Galileo missions for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington,
D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology
in Pasadena.