On the Final Frontier
Date: 9 May 2007
Saturn sits nested in its rings of ice in this image by Cassini of the graceful giant. The scene is reminiscent of the parting glance of NASA's Voyager 1 as it said goodbye to Saturn in 1981 (see Saturn's Shadow).
This natural color mosaic was acquired by the Cassini spacecraft as it soared 39 degrees above the unilluminated side of the rings. The images in this view were obtained on 9 May 2007, at a distance of approximately 1.1 million km (700,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is about 62 km (39 miles) per pixel.
Little light makes its way through the rings to be scattered in Cassini's direction in this viewing geometry, making the rings appear somewhat dark compared to the reflective planet. The view can be contrasted with earlier mosaics designed to showcase the rings rather than the planet, which were therefore given longer exposure times (see Blinding Saturn and Ring World).
The view combines 45 images -- 15 separate sets of red, green and blue images -- taken over the course of about two hours, as Cassini scanned across the entire main ring system.
Three of Saturn's moons are visible in this image: Mimas (397 km, or 247 miles across) at the 2 o'clock position, Janus (181 km, or 113 miles across) at the 4 o'clock position and Pandora (84 km, or 52 miles across) at the 8 o'clock position. Pandora is a faint speck just outside the narrow F ring.
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.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.
Last Update: 18 Aug 2011 (AMB)
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute