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Shadows cast by Saturn’s rings separate the planet’s bright equatorial band from the darker northern latitudes.
This view makes use of a spectral filter sensitive to absorption of certain wavelengths of light by methane in Saturn’s atmosphere. In the north, the light at these wavelengths reaches slightly greater depth before being reflected off the cloud tops, compared to the equatorial region – and it passes through more light-absorbing methane along the way.
The innermost rings arc across the lower left corner.
The view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 37 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 18, 2008 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 890 nanometers.
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