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Saturn’s biggest and brightest moons are visible in this portrait by Cassini.
Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across) is Saturn’s largest moon and appears at the lower left. Note that some details in the moon’s smoggy atmosphere are visible here. Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is the planet’s second largest moon and is seen above center. Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across) has the brightest surface in the solar system, reflecting nearly all of the sunlight that falls upon it. Enceladus is just above the rings, left of center.
Titan was on the far side of the planet at the time of this exposure, while the other moons were on the near side, much closer to Cassini.
Also seen here are details in the cloud bands of Saturn’s mostly hydrogen atmosphere, variations in brightness across the dazzling rings and magnificent ring shadows cast upon the northern hemisphere.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 5, 2005, at a distance of approximately 3.4 million kilometers (2.1 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers. The image scale is 200 kilometers (124 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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute