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Distant Titan, its northern hemisphere drenched in the sunlight of late spring, hangs above Saturn's rings. What might at first glance look like a gap between the rings and the planet is actually Saturn’s shadow. During most of Saturn's long year, the projection of the planet's shadow extends well beyond the edge of the A ring. But, with summer solstice fast approaching, the Sun is now higher in Saturn's sky and most of Saturn's A ring is completely shadow-free.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 3 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in red light with NASA's Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 26, 2016.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 84 degrees. Image scale on Titan is 109 miles (176 kilometers) per pixel.
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.