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The ringed planet wears a broad grin in this image from Cassini, as the icy rings cast long, sweeping shadows across the northern hemisphere. Fantastic details are visible in the bright and dark of the gas giant’s many cloud bands, and the thin rings slice the scene in two.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 27, 2005, at a distance of approximately 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 727 nanometers, where gaseous methane absorbs. The image scale is 156 kilometers (97 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