December 29, 2006
With its dazzling rings, Saturn radiates a beauty and splendor like no other known world. Here, Cassini has captured the cool crescent of Saturn from above the ringplane, with the planet's shadow cutting neatly across the many lanes of ice.
Saturn's southern hemisphere is lit on the night side by reflected light from the rings. The rings cast shadows onto the northern daylit hemisphere at the left, and can be seen in silhouette against the faintly illuminated `dark side' of the planet at the right.
Light reflected inside the camera has left a generally streak-like pattern across the raw images used for this color composite. This pattern appears as multicolor fringes in the final product, but is greatly minimized because of the image processing techniques.
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 31, 2006, at a distance of approximately 2.6 million kilometers (1.6 million miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 163 degrees. Image scale is 153 kilometers (95 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