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Cassini imaging scientists use special images like this one, which shows the far side of Saturn’s rings disappearing behind the planet’s outer atmosphere, to probe the vertical structure of Saturn’s high altitude haze.
This image was acquired from above Saturn’s ring plane, and thus shows the unlit side of the rings. From this perspective, the dark areas correspond to dense regions of the rings where little light penetrates; the brighter ring sections are less dense areas that light can pass through. Here, the bright, outer ring is the A Ring, and the gap between the two visible rings is the densest part of the B ring. The inner, somewhat fainter ring is the outer part of the C ring grading into the inner B Ring. The view is toward the night side of Saturn.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 11, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (618,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 9 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel. The image has been contrast-enhanced and magnified by a factor of three 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 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