Saturn's rings sweep around the planet, throwing their dark shadows onto the northern hemisphere.
The equatorial region is generally brighter than the rest of the planet in Cassini spacecraft views, but the contrast is often striking in monochrome views like this, taken in the infrared part of the spectrum at wavelengths sensitive to methane absorption in the planet's atmosphere. (Compare, for example, Shadowing Saturn
and Seeing High in the Sky.)
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 24 degrees above the ringplane.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 17, 2007 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (668,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 61 kilometers (38 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