July 25, 2013 | 4
For more than nine years, NASA’s Cassini probe has orbited Saturn, examining its rings and moons in unprecedented detail and sending back images of things and places humans had never seen. Filmmaker Fabio di Donato has managed to collapse that discovery and wonder into four minutes. In a new film posted on Vimeo, di Donato cobbled together countless still images of the Saturnian system to compose a beautiful, literally otherworldly montage.
Among the stars of the film: Saturn’s tiny moonlets, which subtly warp the giant planet’s rings; the pockmarked moon Mimas, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Star Wars Death Star; and the two-toned satellite Iapetus, which has one bright hemisphere and one dark one.
The film’s source material is publicly available—Cassini is a taxpayer-funded mission, and its images are distributed freely. The mission, which has captivated scientists and citizens alike, is planetary exploration at its best—a perfect example of why NASA must protect its imperiled planetary science programs, as we argued in an editorial last year.