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Shadows cast onto Saturn by its rings, visible here as dark bands, move steadily towards the equator and grow thinner as equinox approaches.
The Sun will cross Saturn’s ring plane on Aug. 10, 2009.
Color variations between clouds in the northern hemisphere are more apparent than those in the southern hemisphere, which seems relatively bland, as spring arrives in the north and fall in the south.
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 22, 2008 at a distance of approximately 859,000 kilometers (533,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 56 degrees. Image scale is 48 kilometers (30 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.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute