NASA's lunar orbiter spied on Saturn, snapped image of iconic rings

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spied on Saturn and snapped an image of the massive planet with its iconic rings.

1 minute & 19 seconds read time

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is primarily used to take images of the Moon has been used to spy on Saturn from an extreme distance.

NASA's lunar orbiter spied on Saturn, snapped image of iconic rings 01

On October 13, 2021 the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) snapped the above image of Saturn, and while the image could be somewhat disappointing to the eye, it's a representation of a significant technological achievement. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) are line scan cameras, which means that instead of viewing the image as a whole it reviews it precisely line by line.

The LROC cameras have very short exposure times and are designed to take advantage of the speed of the spacecraft as it travels 1 mile per second. So, how did it take an image of Saturn? The orbiters cameras were pointed towards one side of Saturn and then to the planet's other side. The image that was taken showcases Saturn's iconic rings which appear to be above the equator. For those that don't know, Saturn's rings are only 10 to 100 million years old and mostly consist of water ice. explains, "LRO responded to the updated target by slewing to it at a specific rate across the planet. This rate is programed to optimize LRO stability and speed and resulted in a NAC exposure time of 3.82 milli-seconds. Since Saturn is much dimmer than the Moon (and Jupiter) and the exposure time is in effect set by the slew speed, we cannot detect the Saturnian moons as we did with the Galilean moons; they are just too dim."

NASA's lunar orbiter spied on Saturn, snapped image of iconic rings 02

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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