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Cassini’s ability to remain sharply pointed at its targets allowed this image of Saturn’s faint, dusty G ring to be made. The thin streaks visible here are star trails, which are created during long exposures, when the spacecraft remains locked onto a target. The camera shutter was open for three-and-a-half minutes during this particular exposure. A long exposure was required to see details of this quite tenuous ring.
The feature inside the G ring, at upper right, is also a star trail.
The image was taken in polarized visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 7, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (750,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 10 kilometers (9 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