Lit by reflected light from Saturn, Enceladus appears to hover above the gleaming rings, its well-defined ice particle jets spraying a continuous hail of tiny ice grains. The fine particles coat the moon in a mantle as white as fresh snow and populate the torus, or doughnut-shaped E ring in which Enceladus resides.
Beyond Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across), the fine particles in Saturn's other rings also glow brilliantly in scattered light in this viewing geometry. Running horizontally across the center of the image, between Enceladus and the dazzlingly bright F ring, are two faint rings ... kin of the E ring. These are the G ring (top) and the recently discovered ring designated R/2006 S1 (bottom), which is also unofficially known as the Janus/Epimetheus ring.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 22, 2006 at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (810,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 160 degrees. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 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.