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Download the cosmos

NASA / JPL / SSI
Click for slide show: The Cassini spacecraft
looks beyond Saturn toward the icy face of Mimas,
the innermost of the planet's major moons. Click on
the image for other highlights from September.


The final frontier can be as close as your computer, thanks to a constellation of Web sites jam-packed with dramatic views of the cosmos. We're serving up a tall stack of the latest and greatest in our Month in Space roundup, but there's always at least one shot that comes in just a little too late to make the cut.

This month's last-minute addition is a stunning view of Saturn, with its icy moon Mimas visible as a white pearl beneath the rings. The imagery was captured by the Cassini orbiter on Sept. 4 as it flew past the planet at a distance of 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers). After processing the data, the Cassini team released the natural-color image just today.

It's hard to pick out all the delicious details in space images that are scaled down to fit on a Web browser. Fortunately for photo fans, larger versions are almost always available. For example, the pairing of Mimas and Saturn comes in bigger sizes from NASA's Photojournal. And if you're looking for bigger versions of the photos in the Month in Space slide show, suitable for downloading, here are the places to go:

So what's ahead? We've already mentioned the Shenzhou 7 mission, which could come to a climax this weekend with a spacewalk. The next opportunity for SpaceX to launch its Falcon 1 rocket also opens up this weekend, on Sunday. I'll be keeping an eye on SpaceX's fourth attempt to reach orbit - and so will my colleagues who track the final frontier online, including writer/publisher Charles Lurio. After more than a year of sending out his newsletter by e-mail, Lurio has finally set up a Web site for The Lurio Report. Welcome to the Web, Charles!