This fantastic close-up of Saturn's outer C ring shows large and sharp changes in brightness across the rings, owing to the extreme variations in ring particle concentrations at different distances from the planet. The dark gap running through the center contains the Maxwell ringlet, as well as a faint, narrow ringlet discovered in Cassini images. Another very dark region to the right of the Maxwell gap is also a narrow gap.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Oct. 29, 2004, at a distance of about 836,000 kilometers (519,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 4.6 kilometers (2.9 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 Cassini-Huygens 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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org .
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute