PIA08982: Nightside Vista

 Nightside Vista

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Graceful giant Saturn poses with a few of the small worlds it holds close. From this viewpoint the Cassini spacecraft can see across the entirety of the planet’s shadow on the rings, to where the ringplane emerges once again into sunlight.

Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across) shines large and bright near the bottom of the scene. Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across) sits outside the F ring, below center. Epimetheus (116 kilometers, or 72 miles across) is a speck on the far side of the ringplane, immediately to the right of Saturn’s limb. Most of the other bright specks near the rings are background stars.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the ringplane. The image has been brightened to enhance the appearance of the small moons.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 2, 2007 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 918 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 131 kilometers (81 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at ciclops.org.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Source: NASA’s Planetary Photojournal: Image No. PIA08982