3D renderings of Solar System bodies

The Saturn system
Saturn's equinox New Equinox. This rendering shows the Cassini spacecraft at the moment of Saturn's equinox on August 11, 2009. Almost no sunlight illuminates the rings but thanks to Saturnshine they are still visible and appear brightest sunward of Saturn. The brightness of the rings is exaggerated; in reality they appear significantly darker. Cassini near Saturn following equinox New Post equinox. Several hours after the moment of equinox Cassini reaches its closest point to Saturn during its current orbit around the planet. This rendering has a field of view of 57 degrees and shows it near closest approach. Cassini's orientation is probably not correct and the brightness of the rings is exaggerated. Notice the extremely thin ring shadow on Saturn.
Saturn and Rhea Saturn and Rhea with Rhea's vast Tirawa impact basin and another large impact basin visible at upper left. A bright ray system associated with a fairly fresh impact crater is also prominent. The field of view is 40°. Saturn and Rhea Another rendering showing Saturn and heavily cratered Rhea. The field of view is 35°.
Cassini approaching Saturn NASA's Cassini spacecraft approaching Saturn. This rendering shows it several hours before ring plane crossing and the start of the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) rocket burn. The field of view is 45°. Cassini just before SOI Cassini a few minutes after ring plane crossing shortly before the start of the SOI burn. The spacecraft is turning itself to the correct burn attitude. This rendering has a 45° field of view.
Cassini's retrorocket firing The burn started on July 1, 2004 and lasted for 96 minutes. This rendering shows Cassini a few minutes after the start of the burn. The field of view is 60°. Cassini after SOI Safely in Saturn orbit a few hours after the SOI burn. The field of view is 45°. To better show individual spacecraft components Cassini is shown without most of its golden thermal protection blanket in these renderings.
Cassini near Calypso Cassini near Calypso. Cassini has yet to have an extremely close flyby of one of Saturn's small, irregularly shaped satellites. No such flyby is scheduled for Cassini's primary mission, so should one ever take place it would have to be during a possible extended mission. This rendering shows a fictional flyby of Calypso, one of Saturn's small satellites. In reality, Calypso's surface probably appears smoother than in this rendering. Saturn's rings as seen from inside Saturn's atmosphere Alien sky. Saturn's rings as seen from within Saturn's atmosphere. The altitude above the cloudtops is 140 km and the field of view is 40°. The rings appear slightly bent near the horizon due to refraction. The refraction effect should be fairly accurate. In contrast, the color and transparency of Saturn's atmosphere are only approximate. In particular, the atmosphere is probably less transparent than depicted here.
A global view of Saturn's winter hemisphere and the unlit side of the rings Saturn's winter hemisphere and the unlit side of the rings. Saturnshine is a significant effect in this case, the rings (especially the B ring) are brightest where they 'face' Saturn's dayside. A global view of Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings A closeup showing the unlit side of the rings. Some color variations are evident, indicating compositional variations within the rings. Saturn is visible through the Cassini division at upper left. The field of view is 50°.
A global view of Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings Saturn from a distance of 670,000 km. Cloud belts and several storm systems are visible in the northern hemisphere. The field of view is 25°. A global view of Saturn's southern hemisphere and rings Saturn's southern hemisphere. The viewing geometry is identical to the previous rendering, except that the southern hemisphere is in view. Note that the two hemispheres appear far from identical.
Saturn's southern hemisphere and the rings' unlit side The unlit side of the rings. The Pioneer 11 spacecraft had a similar view of Saturn during its 1979 flyby. We are looking at the northern side of the rings whereas the sun is illuminating the southern side. Saturn's southern hemisphere and the rings' unlit side The appearance of the rings changes dramatically if the sun is not illuminating them from the side of the ring plane where we are located. Compare this to the view above.
Saturn's northern hemisphere and polar region Saturn's entire northern hemisphere and north polar region is prominent in this 40° field of view rendering. Note the hexagon around the north pole and the many small storm systems and wavy features. the ring system's outer edge A view from the outer edge of the ring system showing the narrow Encke gap near the bottom. Notice the narrow ring within the gap. Farther away the bigger Cassini division can be seen. This rendering has a 40° field of view.
Voyager 1 at Saturn The Voyager 1 spacecraft a few hours before its November 1980 flyby of Saturn with Saturn's southern hemisphere and the unlit side of the rings in view. Voyager 2 at Saturn Voyager 2's flyby in August 1981 was different from Voyager 1's the year before, the lit side of the rings was in view and the spacecraft came slightly closer to Saturn than Voyager 1 did.
The rings' shadow on Saturn 'Double winter' in Saturn's southern hemisphere: Not only because of the inclination of Saturn's equator to Saturn's orbit (comparable to the Earth's case) but also from the shadow of the rings. The Cassini division and B ring The Cassini division, prominent at upper left, was once thought to be a true gap but is now known to contain a lot of material even though stars are easily visible through it.
The rings - Cassini division A closeup of the Cassini division with the opposition highlight visible in the distance. Notice the varying transparency of the rings, sometimes correlated with their appearance with black space behind them and sometimes not. A closeup of the Cassini division Another closeup of the Cassini division with Saturn's north polar region visible through it. Once thought to be a true gap it is seen here to contain only a few narrow gaps although the density of material is low compared to the adjacent A and B rings.
High-phase Saturn The rings backscatter light strongly, so they appear much darker when we are not looking at them from the direction of the sun. The reason is that we 'see' shadows in the rings caused by ring particles as well as the 'dark side' of the particles. Saturn and the satellite Mimas A view of Saturn and its rings together with the satellite Mimas. An enormous crater (Herschel) visible on Mimas makes it look like the Death Star in Star Wars. This view has a 40° field of view.
Saturn and Mimas half lit Another view showing Saturn and Mimas, this time half lit. Mimas's big crater is visible on the right limb. A close-up of Mimas with Saturn visible in the background A close-up of Mimas' heavily cratered surface. The big crater Herschel is visible on Mimas' limb with its central peaks prominent..
The unlit side of the rings Here we see the unlit side of the rings. The sun illuminates the rings from above, causing the rings containing a lot of material to appear dark. Less dense rings are brighter. The F ring and the outer edge of the ring system The unlit side of the rings with the narrow F ring visible at upper left and the outer edge of the main ring system visible in the distance. The field of view is 45°.
The rings - wide angle A wide angle (75°) rendering showing Saturn's magnificent ring system. The prominent dark "gap" (which actually contains a lot of material) is the Cassini division. The bright spot at left is due to the so called opposition effect. The sun shining through the rings The sun shining through a narrow gap in the Cassini division.
The rings - lit side The inner part of the ring system. The transparent rings at left form the so-called C ring. Here the sun and the observer are on the same side of the ring plane, i.e. above it. The rings - unlit side The same view except that now the sun illuminates the rings from below, i.e. the sun and the observer are on opposite sides of the ring plane. Note the big change in the appearance of the rings.
Overview of the rings An overview of the entire ring system. From left the main rings are the A ring, the Cassini division, the B ring and the C ring. The field of view is 60°. The rings' unlit side silhouetted against Saturn's globe The unlit side of the rings silhouetted against Saturn's globe. The field of view is 45°.
Saturn with the rings edge on Saturn with the rings edge on as seen from our point of view and as seen from the sun. Since the rings are extremely thin (less than 100 meters) they are invisible and their shadow can't be seen on Saturn. Atmospheric features in Saturn's northern hemisphere Many atmospheric features are visible in this rendering of Saturn's northern hemisphere, including ovals, convective features and a ribbon-like feature in a bright belt in the north. The field of view is 30°.
Saturn's crescent and the unlit side of the rings Saturn's thin crescent from a distance of 560000 km. The sun is shining from slightly above the rings so we are seeing their unlit side. Saturn from above the north pole A view from directly above Saturn's north pole during northern summer solstice. The north polar hexagon is clearly visible, as well as the main features of the ring system.

All renderings are copyright © 1998-2008, 2009 Björn Jónsson