Looking for art that’s high drama—and free? Look to NASA for the Cassini mission’s breathtaking photography of Saturn and its moons.
I’ve never been a space geek, but when it’s put right in front of me, I swoon. Like when we visited the Kennedy Space Center a few years ago—and spent seven hours there. We only left because it was closing for the day. And then this morning, with all the news that the Cassini probe made a final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere after a 20-year mission, incinerating itself.
I haven’t followed this mission until today, when I found myself welling up over the news that it had sent its final transmission.
Then my husband, who’s the graphics editor at USA Today, said all the photography taken by Cassini is up on the NASA website, hi-res and free for anyone to download.
This is our tax dollars, beautifully at work.
How cool would it be to download some of these images and create a big gallery wall of them? Just pick up some inexpensive frames at Michaels or Ikea, and you’re set.
Here are some of my favorites, arranged in my imaginary galleries.
Saturn’s moons make fanciful dances along its rings:
A dark, moody look at those rings:
More ring detail, like the universe is using a Spirograph:
A series of pockmarked moons:
Or you could do a yellow series, with this sunlit horizon on Saturn:
And views of its huge moon, Titan:
I’ll end with images in my favorite color, green:
While a lot of us rail at paying taxes—and I just paid my estimated taxes today, in fact—not fun!—we often forget what’s available out there for us in return.
I could have spent all day pouring over these images that the Cassini mission returned to us—there are dozens and dozens of them, not to mention photography from all of NASA’s other missions. This is stuff that looks like it came from a modern art gallery, but it’s ours for the taking (as long as you know the rules, right here).
And while you’re on the site, don’t forget to read the captions about each image, which are absolutely fascinating. Indulge!