CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Contrast Across the Shadows

Contrast Across the Shadows
PIA 09817

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  Saturn's rings sweep around the planet, throwing their dark shadows onto the northern hemisphere.

The equatorial region is generally brighter than the rest of the planet in Cassini views, but the contrast is often striking in monochrome views like this, taken in the infrared part of the spectrum at wavelengths sensitive to methane absorption in the planet's atmosphere. (Compare, for example, PIA08392 and PIA07669.)

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 24 degrees above the ringplane.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 17, 2007 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (668,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 61 kilometers (38 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: January 17, 2008 (PIA 09817)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Jan 19, 2008 at 5:14 AM):
Superb. If it had been released earlier, surely would have been one of the winners of the contest.