Rainbow on the Rings
October 15, 2007
The opposition effect, a brightness surge that is visible on Saturn's rings when the sun is directly behind the spacecraft, is captured here as a colorful halo of light moving across Saturn's sunlit rings.
The rainbow of color seen here is actually an artifact and a by-product of the spot's movement and the way the color image was produced. Cassini acquires color images by taking sequential exposures using red, green and blue spectral filters, which are then composited together to form a color view. The bright patch traveled across the rings between exposures taken for this view, creating a series of three colorful spots showing its position at three separate moments.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 9 degrees below the ringplane.
The images in this view were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 12, 2007, at a distance of approximately 523,000 kilometers (325,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 31 kilometers (19 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