CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

A Full Sweep of Saturn's Rings
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Details of Saturn's icy rings are visible in this sweeping view from Cassini of the planet's glorious ring system.

This natural color mosaic, taken from 10 degrees below the illuminated side of the rings, shows, from left to right, radially outward from Saturn, the C ring (with its Colombo and Maxwell gaps); the B ring and the Cassini division beyond, with the intervening Huygens gap; the A ring (with its Encke and Keeler gaps); and, on the far right, the narrow F ring. The total span covers approximately 65,700 kilometers (40,800 miles).

Although it is too faint to be seen here, the D ring is located just to the left of the C ring.

It is interesting to compare this view with PIA08389, which shows the unilluminated side of the rings. The difference in brightness of the B ring relative to the other rings is striking. When illuminated directly by the sun, the B ring appears brighter than the adjacent A and C rings; however, when viewing the unlit side of the B ring, the A and C rings appear brighter. This phenomenon occurs because the density of the B ring is greater than that of the A or C rings.

The mosaic was constructed from 45 narrow-angle-camera images -- 15 separate sets of red, green and blue images -- taken over the course of about four hours, as Cassini scanned across the rings.

The images in this view were obtained on Nov. 26, 2008, at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (700,000 miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 28 degrees. Image scale in the radial (horizontal) direction is about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. 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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: December 30, 2008 (PIA 11142)
Image/Caption Information
  A Full Sweep of Saturn's Rings
PIA 11142

Avg Rating: 8.52/10

Labeled Full Size 11341x1439:
PNG 13.1 MB
TIFF 16.2 MB

Half Size 5671x720:
PNG 2.9 MB


A Full Sweep of Saturn's Rings
PIA 11142

Avg Rating: 9.44/10

Full Size 11814x1903:
PNG 13.2 MB
TIFF 16.5 MB

Half Size 5907x952:
PNG 3.2 MB

Alliance Member Comments
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Jan 1, 2009 at 1:53 PM):
That picture is a fine work. In it, the general color of the B ring is similar to Saturn's principal color ( yellowish und light-brownish ) .
NeKto (Dec 31, 2008 at 8:40 AM):
How much of what has been learned from close study of the Saturn system can be applied to understanding accretion disc dynamics and planet formation around young stars?
Red_dragon (Dec 30, 2008 at 12:56 PM):
As you say, it's really interesting to compare this image with, to see the differences between the light and dark side of the rings.

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