August 8, 2006
The Cassini spacecraft continues to profile the haze structure and opacity in Saturn's upper atmosphere with images like this, which captures Rigel, a star in Orion whose brightness is well-known, as it passes behind the planet.
The extent to which the star's light is dimmed tells scientists about the sizes and amounts of the molecules and tiny particles that make up the atmospheric hazes.
The image was taken in visible red light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 30, 2004 at a distance of approximately 446,000 kilometers (277,000 miles) from Saturn. 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