CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Across Resplendent Rings
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Across Resplendent Rings
PIA 11657

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  The shadow of Saturn's moon Mimas dips onto the planet's rings and straddles the Cassini Division in this natural color image taken as Saturn approaches its August 2009 equinox.

The novel illumination geometry created as the Saturnian system approaches equinox allows moons orbiting in or near the plane of Saturn's equatorial rings to cast shadows onto the rings. These scenes are possible only during the few months before and after Saturn's equinox which occurs only once in about 15 Earth years. To see a movie of Mimas' shadow moving across the rings, see PIA11658. Mimas (396 kilometers, 246 miles across) does not appear in this image, but the moon has a flattened, or oblate, shape (see PIA07534).

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 52 degrees below the ringplane. Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on April 8, 2009 at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (684,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 64 kilometers (40 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.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: June 22, 2009 (PIA 11657)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Aug 10, 2009 at 3:39 PM):
As a final note, because I agree to discuss this is pointless, let's assume there's a Moon-sized starship in orbit around Saturn, and let's assume is pitch black (so that it absorbs all sunlight and cannot be directly seen) and needle-shaped. That "cloaking device" is not quite good, since the "ship" can be seen projected over the rings. And it could easily be seen when it passes in front of Saturn's disk, because even on a sync. orbit around Saturn it would pass over the planet.
Another problem is that if it was so close to the ring system, its huge mass -even if it was hollow- would disturb the ring system, even if it was far from it and surely that also could be seen from Earth. Do I have to follow?
Red_dragon (Aug 10, 2009 at 3:14 PM):
Sorry, I meant to say: "No amateur astronomer has seen it".
Red_dragon (Aug 10, 2009 at 3:13 PM):
Of course that there is a 2000 mile long spacecraft in Saturn. And the "Men in Black" are so efficient that no amateur astronomer (because something SO big should be seen with amateur telescopes), and despite its size does not disturb Saturn rings... come on.
SineWave0 (Aug 9, 2009 at 11:44 AM):
It is a 2000 mile long space craft that is either mining the rings of Saturn for minerals or it is creating the rings somehow.

This was discussed by Robert O. Dean at the Exopolitics summit in Barcelona 2009.
Here is Part 1 of 7

Watch all parts.
CheshireCat (Jun 25, 2009 at 2:10 AM):
Iapetus Monolith: the long axis of the shadow points to the moon casting the shadow. Pretty sure (but not certain, nor able to check from my current location) in this case, the moon is to the right since I can't see the shadow of the planet anywhere on the rings, here.
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Jun 23, 2009 at 12:28 PM):
A view of a shadow cast by one of Saturn's major moons onto its rings in color.
Iapetus Monolith (Jun 22, 2009 at 12:59 PM):
Out of sight, literally - where exactly is Mimas in relation to this shadow? Perhaps, Carolyn, your team could post an identical image with an arrow or cross marking the moon's position?
BobbyD (Jun 22, 2009 at 8:44 AM):
These are all amazing 'shadow' images!! Can't wait to see what's next!?!

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