The Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's main rings in a study of light and dark.
A bright knot is visible in the F ring near upper left. Ring scientists think features like this can be created when a small moonlet collides with the ring's core, leading to collisions that scatter fine, icy particles (see F Ring Dynamism).
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 16 degrees above the ringplane. The edge of Saturn's shadow forms a dark wedge on the rings at right.
The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Sept. 22, 2008. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (743,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 27 degrees. Image scale is 68 kilometers (42 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