This moody portrait of Saturn captures a razor-thin ringplane bisecting the clouds of the bright equatorial region. The rings cast dark, shadowy bands onto the planet's northern latitudes.
At left, Dione (1,126 kilometers, or 700 miles across) is a tiny sunlit orb against the planet's dark side.
The image was taken in polarized infrared light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 7, 2005 at a distance of approximately 3.1 million kilometers (1.9 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 96 degrees. Image scale is 179 kilometers (111 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.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute