Shadows on a Giant
July 2, 2012
Saturn's rings cast wide shadows on the planet, and the shadow of a moon also graces the gas giant in this scene from the Cassini spacecraft.
The moon Enceladus is not shown in this view, but it does cast a small, elongated shadow on the planet near the bottom of this view. The moon Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is visible as a bright dot on the far right of the image in the ring plane.
This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 2 degrees below the ringplane.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 14, 2012 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.7 million miles (2.8 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 51 degrees. Image scale is 105 miles (170 kilometers) 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 in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute