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In Saturn's shadow, the southern hemisphere of Enceladus is lit by sunlight reflected first off the rings and then onto the nightside of the planet. Other sources of illumination include sunlight reflected off Titan, Dione, and Rhea which, at the time this image was acquired, were all positioned in the same place in the Enceladan sky. The deep Labtayt Sulci lie at the top of this image, which is nearly centered on the moon's South pole. While features in the center of this image are in sharp focus, those near the limb appear blurred because the spacecraft was receding from Enceladus at 16 kilometers (10 miles) per second during this long exposure.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 31, 2008 at a distance of approximately 137,000 kilometers (85,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 73 degrees. Image scale is 818 meters (2,682 feet) per pixel.
The Cassini Equinox 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.