New details on Iapetus (1,471 kilometers, 914 miles across) are illuminated by reflected light from Saturn in this revealing Cassini image. Never-before-seen features on the Saturn-facing part of Iapetus' bright trailing hemisphere are visible for the first time, including many dark spots, and a sharper view of a dark circular structure that was first seen at very low resolution by Voyager 1 in 1980.
The image shows principally the night side of Iapetus; part of the far brighter sunlit side appears at right and is overexposed due to the long integration time of 180 seconds. Despite this long exposure time, almost no blurring due to the spacecraft's motion is apparent. This technique for imaging the night side of Iapetus will be used again during a flyby on January 1, 2005, when Cassini will pass thirteen times closer to the icy moon.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on October 22, 2004, from a distance of 1.6 million kilometers (994,000 miles) from Iapetus, and from a Sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 161 degrees. The view is centered on 0.4 degrees north latitude, 317 degrees west longitude on Iapetus. The image scale is 9.4 kilometers (5.8 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.