As our robotic emissary to Saturn, Cassini is privileged to behold such fantastic sights as this pairing of two moons beyond the rings. The bright, narrow F ring is the outermost ring structure seen here.
In this scene, bright Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) begins to slip in front of more distant Dione (1,123 kilometers, 698 miles across). Enceladus is closer to Saturn than Dione, and orbits the planet at greater velocity. Thus, the smaller moon eventually passed the larger one, as seen from Cassini, and continued on its way.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 3, 2006, using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of ultraviolet light centered at 338 nanometers and at a distance of approximately 2.6 million kilometers (1.6 million miles) from Enceladus and 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from Dione. The view was taken from a phase angle (Sun-moon-spacecraft angle) of 139 degrees; about the same angle with respect to both moons. Image scale is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) per pixel on Enceladus and Dione.
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.