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Light from the star Beta Crucis (Mimosa) breaks through the plane of the A ring in the center of this image of a stellar occultation.
Several of Cassini's remote-sensing instruments use occultations like this to measure the opacity of the ring system and the upper atmospheric haze layers of Saturn and Titan. The camera snapped this image riding along while the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (UVIS) did its work (see Rev98).
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 24, 2008.
The view, which looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 58 degrees above the ringplane, was obtained at a distance of approximately 825,000 kilometers (513,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 54 kilometers (34 miles) 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.