CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Watching Atlas's Waistline

Watching Atlas's Waistline
PIA 08233

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  Cassini finds oddly-shaped Atlas gliding along the edge of the A ring. The moon has a prominent equatorial bulge, which is accentuated here by the grazing viewing angle of Cassini, making Atlas appear pointy.

Cassini images revealed in 2004 that a faint ring of material coincides with the orbit of Atlas (30 kilometers, 19 miles across). See PIA06113 for more about "the Atlas ring."

This view looks upward, toward the lit side of Saturn's rings.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 30, 2006 at a distance of approximately 283,000 kilometers (176,000 miles) from Atlas. Image scale is 2 kilometers (1 mile) per pixel.

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: August 1, 2006 (PIA 08233)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
mipsandbips (Jun 4, 2009 at 7:53 PM):
Atlas' size and shape may explain why it does not reach a point of
apoapse into the F ring material as Prometheus does; however,
it may have more to do with its size than of its shape.