CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

A Dark Bend
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Saturn's rings appear to bend due to refraction of Saturn's upper atmosphere. The dark, night-side of Saturn, gives the effect of the brighter rings water falling into space.

The effect is the same as PIA20491, but the change in light and face of the rings brings out some noticeable differences. The A ring is much darker on the unlit face since light cannot easily pass through the large particles. But the F ring goes from a faint A ring companion, to a shining beacon thanks to the microscopic dust that makes up that ring. Small dust tends to scatter light "forward" (close to the original direction), making it appear bright when backlit. (A similar effect has plagued many a driver with a dusty windshield when driving toward the sun.)

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 19 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 24, 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 527,000 miles (848,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 169 degrees. Image scale is 3 miles (5 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.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: September 5, 2016 (PIA 20497)
Image/Caption Information
  A Dark Bend
PIA 20497

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