Mimas drifts along in its orbit against the azure backdrop of Saturn's northern latitudes in this true color view. The long, dark lines on the atmosphere are shadows cast by the planet's rings.
Saturn's northern hemisphere is presently relatively cloud-free, and rays of sunlight take a long path through the atmosphere. This results in sunlight being scattered at shorter (bluer) wavelengths, thus giving the northernmost latitudes their bluish appearance at visible wavelengths.
At the bottom, craters on icy Mimas (398 kilometers, or 247 miles across) give the moon a dimpled appearance.
Images taken using infrared (930 nanometers), green (568 nanometers) and ultraviolet (338 nanometers) spectral filters were combined. The colors have been adjusted to match closely what the scene would look like in natural color. See Nature's Canvas for a similar view in natural color.
The images were obtained using the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Jan. 18, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Saturn. Resolution in the image is 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) per pixel on Saturn and 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) per pixel on Mimas. The image has been contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . For images visit the Cassini imaging team home page http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute