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The Cassini spacecraft finds oddly-shaped Atlas gliding along the edge of the A ring. The moon has a prominent equatorial bulge, which is accentuated here by the grazing viewing angle of Cassini, making Atlas appear pointy.
Cassini images revealed in 2004 that a faint ring of material coincides with the orbit of Atlas (32 kilometers, or 20 miles across). See PIA06113 for more about “the Atlas ring.”
This view looks upward, toward the lit side of Saturn’s rings.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 30, 2006 at a distance of approximately 283,000 kilometers (176,000 miles) from Atlas. Image scale is 2 kilometers (1 mile) 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute