CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Light and Dark Tricks
[For trouble viewing the images/movies on this page, go here]
Light and Dark Tricks
PIA 12734

Avg Rating: 9.17/10

Full Size 1018x1018:
PNG 216 KB
  Capturing the interplay between light and shadow, Cassini looks toward the night side of Saturn where sunlight reflected off the rings has dimly illuminated what would otherwise be the dark side of the planet.

Saturn's southern hemisphere occupies the lower left of the image, and Cassini is looking up toward the rings here. The planet casts a shadow that cuts across the rings in the top right of the image. In the top left of the image, it seems that the rings are casting shadows on the planet. That is not the case. The dark areas in the top left are the rings themselves, and they are blocking Cassini's view of the light that is reflected off the rings and onto the planet, as seen in the middle left and lower left of the image. For a different perspective, see this view.

Some sunlight from the day side of the planet scatters through the planet's atmosphere and illuminates the limb of Saturn in the middle left of the image. See PIA12705 and PIA12603 for similar views and to learn more.

This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 4 degrees below the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Sept. 2, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 435,000 kilometers (270,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 178 degrees. Image scale is 22 kilometers (14 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: October 4, 2010 (PIA 12734)
Image/Caption Information

Want to add a comment?   Login (for Alliance Members) ... or ... Join the CICLOPS Alliance!