CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

High-phase Rings
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The Cassini spacecraft captured this dramatic view of the unilluminated side of Saturn's rings seen at a high phase angle.

Phase angle refers to the angle formed by the Sun, the object being viewed (the rings) and the spacecraft. At an angle of zero degrees the Sun is directly behind Cassini; at 180 degrees the Sun is directly in front of the spacecraft.

Many otherwise faint ring features brighten substantially when viewed in this geometry. In this image, normally faint regions within the D and inner C rings can be seen extending from lower right toward center.

The many small specks in the image were created by cosmic rays striking the camera's detector.

This view looks toward the rings from about 2 degrees above the ringplane. The planet's shadow darkens the scene at lower right.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 20, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 211,000 kilometers (131,000 miles) from Saturn and at a phase angle of 166 degrees. Image scale on the sky at the distance of Saturn is 9 kilometers (6 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: April 8, 2008 (PIA 09875)
Image/Caption Information
  High-phase Rings
PIA 09875

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Alliance Member Comments
vista (Apr 29, 2008 at 5:32 PM):
a powerful electrical storm rages on Saturn with lightning bolts 10,000 times more powerful than those found on Earth, the Cassini spacecraft continues its five-month watch over the dramatic events.

Scientists with NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission have been tracking the visibly bright, lightning-generating storm--the longest continually observed electrical storm ever monitored by Cassini.

Saturn's electrical storms resemble terrestrial thunderstorms, but on a much larger scale. Storms on Saturn have diameters of several thousand kilometers (thousands of miles), and radio signals produced by their lightning are thousands of times more powerful than those produced by terrestrial thunderstorms.
The latest release (images) show an electrical storm 10,000 brighter than electrical storms on Earth.
I would like to know how these storms are generated, i wounder do the Cassini scientist, have an understanding about these electrical storms work on Saturn.
Red_dragon (Apr 16, 2008 at 3:30 AM):