The frigid, icy moon Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) hovers above Saturn’s exquisite rings in this color view from Cassini. The rings, made of almost pure water ice, have also become somewhat contaminated by meteoritic dust during their likely several hundred million year history. Enceladus shares the rings’ nearly pure water ice composition, but appears to have eluded dust contamination through resurfacing processes that scientists are still trying to understand.
Dust affects the rings’ color, while differences in brightness are attributable to varying particle sizes and concentrations.
The images for this natural color view were taken with the narrow angle camera on April 5, 2005, from a distance of approximately 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Saturn through red, green and blue spectral filters. The image scale is 13 kilometers (8 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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.