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The exquisitely formed shadow of the moon Mimas graces Saturn's A ring in this Cassini portrait.
Saturn's moons cast shadows onto the rings as the planet approaches its August 2009 equinox. To learn more about this special time and to see a movie of a moon's shadow moving across the rings, see PIA11651. Mimas is not shown in this image, but Prometheus (86 kilometers, 53 miles across) is visible in the bottom of the image between the A ring and the thin F ring. Other bright specks in the image are background stars.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 60 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 30, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 69 kilometers (43 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.