The Cassini spacecraft watches as the shadows of Saturn's rings grow wider and creep farther south as the seasons progress from the planet's August 2009 equinox.
See The Rite of Spring to learn more about the changing seasons and to see a view from equinox when the rings cast only a thin shadow on Saturn's equator. See Sliding Shadows for an even earlier view of the rings' wide shadows draped high on the northern hemisphere.
This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 22, 2011 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 939 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 252,000 miles (405,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 140 degrees. Image scale is 13 miles (21 kilometers) 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 in Washington. 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.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute