CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Fantastic Planet
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Saturn's biggest and brightest moons are visible in this fantastic portrait by Cassini.

Titan (5,150 kilometers, 3,200 miles across) is Saturn's largest moon and appears at lower left. Note that some details in the moon's smoggy atmosphere are visible here. Rhea (1,528 kilometers, 949 miles across) is the planet's second largest moon and is seen above center. Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) has the brightest surface in the solar system, reflecting nearly all of the sunlight that falls upon it. Enceladus is just above the rings, near the edge of the planet.

Titan was on the far side of the planet at the time of this exposure, while the other moons were on the near side, much closer to Cassini.

Also seen here are details in the cloud bands of Saturn's mostly hydrogen atmosphere, variations in brightness across the dazzling rings and magnificent ring shadows cast upon the northern hemisphere.

The image was taken with the wide angle camera on February 5, 2005, from a distance of approximately 3.4 million kilometers (2.1 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers. The image scale is 200 kilometers (124 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: March 14, 2005 (PIA 06604)
Image/Caption Information
  Fantastic Planet
PIA 06604

Avg Rating: 9.04/10

Full Size 1020x921:
PNG 240 KB

Alliance Member Comments
graupma (Dec 24, 2007 at 1:30 PM):
fantastic planet? Isn't this mostly all gaseous...not a planet then. a miniature sun undeveloped, with potential planets in the future.
or is this really FORBIDDEN PLANET...remember the movie?
Red_dragon (Jan 19, 2007 at 2:34 AM):
Another of my favourites;some of the most interesting "Worlds of the Cassini-Huygens mission" pose pridely there.Thank you for sharing with all those of us who love astronomy epic images like this one.

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