February 24, 2009
The terminator nearly covers the south pole of Saturn and its stormy vortex in darkness.
As the southern hemisphere moves toward winter in the planet's 29-year orbit, darkness eventually will consume the vortex. But this seasonal change also will bring the north pole into the light.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 69 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 6, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 761,000 kilometers (473,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 96 degrees. Image scale is 42 kilometers (26 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