Stunning views like this image of Saturn's night side are only possible thanks to our robotic emissaries like Cassini. Until future missions are sent to Saturn, Cassini's image-rich legacy must suffice.
Because Earth is closer to the Sun than Saturn, observers on Earth only see Saturn’s day side. With spacecraft, we can capture views (and data) that are simply not possible from Earth, even with the largest telescopes.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 7 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft on June 7, 2017.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 751,000 miles (1.21 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 45 miles (72 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017.
The Cassini Solstice 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.