Robot Spacecraft Snaps Uranus Through Rings of Saturn


This NASA image depicts Uranus and its five moons.
Image: NASA

The robotic NASA spacecraft Cassini has been touring the solar system for 17 years now — and it just caught its first glimpse of one of the most remote planets.

Cassini has been focused on Saturn, but turned its gaze away long enough to snap this photo of distant Uranus, taken while it was almost on the complete opposite side of the Sun from Uranus. NASA says it was 28.6 astronomical units away from the ice giant at the time — or roughly 2.6 billion miles.

Here’s Cassini’s first photo of Uranus, the tiny blue dot seen through some of Saturn’s rings.

Uranus Photo
The spec of blue light in the top left corner of the photo is the ice-giant planet Uranus.

Image: NASA

The spacecraft has been hovering around Saturn since 2004, and is outfitted with cameras and equipment to measure atmospheric conditions and light spectra. It delivered a probe called Huygens that descended onto the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan, known to have an atmosphere and liquid water.

Uranus and Neptune, the 7th and 8th planets from the Sun, are commonly referred to as “ice giant” planets. Both are mostly composed of frozen water, ammonia and methane.

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