June 5, 2009
The Cassini spacecraft captured this image of a dimly lit Titan as Saturn's largest moon was eclipsed by the planet.
This view looks up toward the south pole of Titan which lies on the terminator about a quarter of the way inward from the right of the visible disk. Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing side of Titan (5150 kilometers, or 3200 miles across). In Saturn's shadow, the southern hemisphere of Titan is lit by two sources: sunlight scattered through the planet's rings and refracted sunlight passing through the edge of Saturn's atmosphere. A similar view of an eclipse of another moon, Tethys, can be seen in Against a Hail of Stars.
Stars in this image are smeared by the long camera exposure time of 560 seconds needed to capture the faint light on Titan. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 7, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 667,000 kilometers (414,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 58 degrees. Image scale is 40 kilometers (25 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