CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

With its dazzling rings, Saturn radiates a beauty and splendor like no other known world. Here, Cassini has captured the cool crescent of Saturn from above the ringplane, with the planet's shadow cutting neatly across the many lanes of ice.

Saturn's southern hemisphere is lit on the night side by reflected light from the rings. The rings cast shadows onto the northern daylit hemisphere at left, and can be seen in silhouette against the faintly illuminated `dark side' of the planet at right.

Light reflected inside the camera has left a generally streak-like pattern across the raw images used for this color composite. This pattern appears as multicolor fringes in the final product, but greatly minimized owing to the image processing techniques.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 31, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.6 million kilometers (1.6 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 163 degrees. Image scale is 153 kilometers (95 miles) 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: December 29, 2006 (PIA 08340)
Image/Caption Information
PIA 08340

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Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Jan 24, 2007 at 7:54 AM):
Very,very beautiful.It's a pity the WAC hadn't enough field of view to capture the entire ring system:if so,the image would be even more beautiful.