This majestic view of Saturn captures several phenomena of interest to scientists working on the Cassini mission. The planet's nighttime atmosphere looms ahead - an excellent place to search for storms and lightning. Saturn's shadow stretches across the rings, which will over the next 4+ years receive their most thorough examination since Galileo discovered them in 1610. And, barely visible near lower right just inside the F ring, is the small shepherd moon Prometheus (86 kilometers, 53 miles across). Researchers will explore the many moons of Saturn, including special ones like Prometheus that help maintain some of the rings and gaps in this complex and dynamic system.
The image was taken in visible light with the wide angle camera on October 29, 2004, from a distance of about 940,000 kilometers (584,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 52 kilometers (33 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.