CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

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PIA 12708

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  The shadows of Saturn's rings cast onto the planet appear as a thin band at the equator in this image taken as the planet approached its August 2009 equinox.

The novel illumination geometry that accompanies equinox lowers the sun's angle to the ringplane, significantly darkens the rings, and causes out-of-plane structures to look anomalously bright and to cast shadows across the rings. These scenes are possible only during the few months before and after Saturn's equinox which occurs only once in about 15 Earth years. Before and after equinox, Cassini's cameras have spotted not only the predictable shadows of some of Saturn's moons (see PIA11657), but also the shadows of newly revealed vertical structures in the rings themselves (see PIA11665). For an earlier view of the rings' wide shadows draped high on the northern hemisphere, see PIA09793.

The planet's southern hemisphere can be seen through the transparent D ring in the lower right of the image. The rings have been brightened by a factor of 9.5 relative to the planet to enhance visibility.

This view looks toward the northern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 30 degrees above the ringplane.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 18, 2009 at a distance of approximately 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 122 kilometers (76 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 http://ciclops.org, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: August 27, 2010 (PIA 12708)
Image/Caption Information


Alliance Member Comments
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Sep 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM):
An interesting and beautiful view. Here, Saturn looks mainly yellowish and greenish.

It seems that a part of the north polar hexagon is visible.
Red_dragon (Aug 27, 2010 at 1:35 PM):
Finally a color image!. I had forgotten what was to see one recently released :)

Cassini's point of view gives a superb image and it's curious to see remmants of northern's hemisphere blues.

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