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Saturn’s shadow cuts sharply across the rings in this remarkable night side view.
The planet’s northern latitudes are in darkness in the upper portion of this scene, while the southern reaches are bathed in ringshine. On the left sunlight filters through the rings, and on the right the rings are blocking the reflected ringshine in the shadow of Saturn. The overexposed, sunlit crescent at lower left marks the transition from Saturnian day to night.
Mimas (397 kilometers, or 247 miles across) hovers below center – a tiny bauble ornamenting the ringed giant.
The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on August 19, 2006 at a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) from Mimas and 1.7 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 92 kilometers (57 miles) per pixel on Mimas and 103 kilometers (64 miles) on Saturn.
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