A Shadowy Figure
September 22, 2005
The "flying saucer" in this image is the small moon Atlas (20 kilometers, 12 miles across), whose shadowy profile reveals its flattened shape. This image looks down onto the outer A ring, and through the Encke and Keeler gaps.
Two distinct, thin strands in the F ring are visible here, silhouetted against the planet. Saturn's extended, high-altitude haze is seen near lower right.
The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 2, 2005, at a distance of approximately 489,000 kilometers (304,000 miles) from Atlas and at a Sun-Atlas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 138 degrees. The image scale is 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute