CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Scene Seen in the Near-Infrared
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Scene Seen in the Near-Infrared
PIA 11628

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  Cassini's camera looks in near-infrared light at a dramatic view of Saturn, its ringplane and the shadows of a couple of its moons.

The large shadow south of the equator is that of the moon Tethys (1062 kilometers, 660 miles across). The small shadow near the limb of the planet, north of the equator, is the shadow of the moon Mimas (396 kilometers, 246 miles across).

Saturn's northern and southern latitudes appear dark in this image because of the camera filter used. This view uses a spectral filter sensitive to absorption of certain wavelengths of light by methane in Saturn's atmosphere. Compared to the equatorial region which appears bright, in the dark northern and southern latitudes the light at these wavelengths reaches slightly greater depth before being reflected off the cloud tops and it passes through more light-absorbing methane along the way.

This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 23, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2.6 million kilometers (1.6 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 110 degrees. Image scale is 149 kilometers (92 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: November 20, 2009 (PIA 11628)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Nov 21, 2009 at 6:29 AM):
Me too; being used to the classical look of Saturn -both in Cassini images and telescope views-, the alien look of Saturn in the infrared is really tantalizing and cool.

By the way, want also to see more images as this one:
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Nov 20, 2009 at 11:11 AM):
Red_dragon: Yeah, I love these black and white images, especially in the near infrared filters where methane absorbs the light. They are so outer-space!
Red_dragon (Nov 20, 2009 at 7:41 AM):
Impressive image, even more than ""Bright Spokes, Dark Rings". As always, the bowlike appearance of a crescent Saturn with the rings resembling an arrow is a sight. Keep them coming.

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