Saturn's moon Enceladus orbits serenely before a backdrop of clouds roiling the atmosphere the planet.
Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) appears in front of the planet's rings near the middle left of the image. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.
Scale in the original image was 68 kilometers (42 miles) per pixel. The image was contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of 1.5 to enhance visibility. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 10, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 631,000 kilometers (392,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 50 degrees.
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.