March 31, 2009
The Cassini spacecraft casts its gaze across four million kilometers of space for this snapshot of Iapetus, Saturn's most distant major moon.
Iapetus -- at 1471 kilometers (914 miles) across -- is the third largest moon, but its inclined orbit is much farther out from the other major moons, where Cassini spends most of its time. Nonetheless, the moon's distinctive two-tone surface is obvious.
This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Iapetus. North on Iapetus is up and rotated 2 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 3, 2008.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 4 million kilometers (2.5 million miles) from Iapetus and at a Sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 24 kilometers (15 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