April 10, 2009
From the dark side of Titan, the Cassini spacecraft profiles the moon's atmosphere as sunlight filters through its upper hazes.
An airless satellite would appear in this viewing geometry only as a lit crescent. But Titan's thick atmosphere scatters light around all edges of the planet to create a ring of light.
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this full color view of Titan at high phase. The color in the image on the right has been computer enhanced to bring out the outer haze layer, and the contrast in both images has been enhanced.
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Titan. North on Titan is up and rotated 45 degrees to the left. The images were acquired at a distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 157 degrees. Image scale is 11 kilometers (7 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