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This dramatic view of Saturn’s rings draped by the shadow of Saturn, shows brightness variations that correspond to differences in the concentration of the ring particles as they orbit the planet.
The planet’s western limb is visible in the upper right corner. Three of Saturn’s moons can be seen here: Bright Enceladus (499 kilometers, or 310 miles across) is visible near lower right; Epimetheus (116 kilometers, or 72 miles across) appears at center left; and interior to the F ring, near the top of the image, is Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across). The F ring, the outermost ring shown here, displays several knot-like features near the left side of the image.
The image was taken in visible light by the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on July 3, 2004, from a distance of 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Saturn, at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of about 108 degrees. This is the first processed wide angle camera image to be released since Cassini’s encounter with Jupiter in 2000. The image scale is 87 kilometers (54 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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. 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.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute