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Less than 20 minutes after Cassini's close approach to Titan on March 31, 2005 its cameras captured this view of Saturn through Titan's upper atmosphere. The northern part of Saturn's disk can be seen at upper left; dark horizontal lines are shadows cast upon Saturn by its rings. Below this level, Titan's atmosphere is thick enough to obscure Saturn.
The diffuse bright regions of the image (below Saturn and at right) are light being scattered by haze in the upper reaches of Titan's atmosphere.
This image is scientifically useful because it gives a measure of both the transmissive properties of Titan's haze (from the attenuation of light from Saturn) and the reflective properties of the haze (from its brightness next to Saturn).
The image was taken in visible light with the wide angle camera from a distance of 7,980 kilometers (4,960 miles) from Titan, when Saturn was about 1.3 million kilometers (808,000 miles) away. Image scale is about 320 meters (1,050 feet) per pixel on Titan.
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.