CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Tethys Tops Saturn

An illusion of perspective, Saturn’s moon Tethys seems to hang above the planet's north pole in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Tethys (660 miles or 1,062 kilometers across) is actually farther away than Saturn in this image. Lacking visual clues about distance, our brains place the moon above Saturn's north pole. Tethys, like all of Saturn's major moons and its ring system, orbits almost exactly in the planet's equatorial plane.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera on Jan. 26, 2015 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2.1 million miles (3.4 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale on Saturn is 120 miles (200 kilometers) per pixel. Tethys has been brightened by a factor of three relative to Saturn to enhance its visibility.

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: July 11, 2016 (PIA 20488)
Image/Caption Information
  Tethys Tops Saturn
PIA 20488

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Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Jul 17, 2016 at 5:43 AM):
at first glance, i do see distance between Saturn and Tethys. i have to concentrate a little to see all the distance the perspective of the rings indicate is there, but i can see it.
a little concentration in the other direction and i can see Tethys at the same distance as Saturn, hovering over the pole.
fun to play with.
NeKto (Jul 13, 2016 at 10:45 PM):
love it.