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Two weeks after orbit insertion, Cassini glanced back at Saturn, taking in the entire planet and its expansive rings. Currently it is summer in Saturn’s southern hemisphere. Notable here is the bright spot located near the planet’s southern hemisphere, where the line from the day and night side of the planet meets. The angle of illumination hints at Saturn’s tilt relative to the Sun.
The image was taken in visible red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on July 13, 2004, from a distance of about 5 million kilometers (3.1 million miles) from Saturn. The Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase angle of this image is 95 degrees. The image scale is 299 kilometers (186 miles) per pixel. Contrast has been enhanced slightly to aid visibility.
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