From Saturn orbit, Cassini provides a perspective on the ringed planet that is never seen from Earth.
In our skies, Saturn's disk is always nearly fully illuminated by the Sun. From this vantage point -- nearly in the ring plane, with the sun over to the right -- Cassini can see both lit and dark hemispheres, with the shadow of the rings on the northern hemisphere.
Saturn's low density and fast rotation cause its shape to deviate from spherical to a pronounced oblateness, very apparent here.
The image was taken using the wide angle camera and a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers. The image was acquired on Sept. 30, 2005 from a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 79 degrees. The mage scale is 139 kilometers (86 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.