Saturn's A ring displays a marked asymmetry in brightness between the region nearer to the Cassini spacecraft and the region farther from it. The A ring is the broad, bright section of the rings outside of the dark B ring. The asymmetry may help scientists understand various properties of the rings, such as the sizes of the particles and their arrangement into clumps.
The rings' dark shadows hug Saturn's northern hemisphere.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 7 degrees above the ringplane. The planet is overexposed in this observation, which was designed to capture details in the rings.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 14, 2007 at a distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 101 kilometers (63 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