CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Bright Moons, Dark Planet
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Cassini observes three of Saturn's moons set against the darkened night side of the planet.

Saturn is present on the left this image, but appears too dark to see. Rhea (1528 kilometers, 949 miles across) is closest to Cassini here and appears largest at the center of the image. Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) is to the right of Rhea. Dione (1123 kilometers, 698 miles across) is to the left of Rhea, partly obscured by Saturn.

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

The image was taken in visible red light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 25, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Rhea and at a Sun-Rhea-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 67 degrees. Image scale is 13 kilometers (8 miles) per pixel on Rhea. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 3 million kilometers (1.9 million miles) from Enceladus and at a phase angle of 67 degrees. Image scale is 18 kilometers (11 miles) per pixel on Enceladus. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 3.1 million kilometers (1.9 million miles) from Dione and at a phase angle of 67 degrees. Image scale is 19 kilometers (12 miles) per pixel on Dione.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit http://ciclops.org, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: June 20, 2011 (PIA 12771)
Image/Caption Information
  Bright Moons, Dark Planet
PIA 12771

Avg Rating: 8.17/10

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Alliance Member Comments
Iapetus Monolith (Jul 6, 2011 at 4:37 PM):
Unbeatable ... until some fortunate pioneer-voyager actually views such a scene through her/his spaceship window ... dream on!
enceladus5 (Jun 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM):
Just a beautiful convergence of very diverse moons. Thanks Cassini!!!!
Red_dragon (Jun 20, 2011 at 8:16 AM):
Simply put, jawdropping.

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