CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Dark-stained Iapetus

Dark-stained Iapetus
PIA 06167

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  This near-true color view from Cassini reveals the colorful and intriguing surface of Iapetus in unrivaled clarity.

The images taken in different spectral filters and used for this composite were taken at the same time as the clear frames used in PIA 06166 . The use of color on Iapetus is particularly helpful for discriminating between shadows (which appear black) and the intrinsically dark terrain (which appears brownish).

This image shows the northern part of the dark Cassini Regio and the transition zone to a brighter surface at high northern latitudes. Within the transition zone, the surface is stained by roughly north-south trending wispy streaks of dark material. The absence of an atmosphere on Iapetus means that the material was deposited by some means other precipitation, such as ballistic emplacement of material from elsewhere on the moon, or deposition of infalling material from elsewhere in the Saturn system.

Iapetus's north pole is not visible here, nor is any part of the bright trailing hemisphere.

Images taken in infrared (centered at 930 nanometers), green (568 nanometers), and ultraviolet light (338 nanometers) filters were combined to create this image. The view was obtained with the narrow angle camera on December 31, 2004, from a distance of about 172,900 kilometers (107,435 miles) from Iapetus. Resolution achieved in the original image was 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two to aid visibility of surface features.

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: January 7, 2005 (PIA 06167)
Image/Caption Information