CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Brilliance Beyond the Rings

Brilliance Beyond the Rings
PIA 11558

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  Cassini looks past the illuminated side of Saturn's rings to the brilliant moon Enceladus.

Although the moon's brightness may make it appear closer to the observer, Enceladus is actually farther from the spacecraft than the rings in this image. As Saturn's brightest, whitest satellite, Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) has one of the most reflective surfaces in the solar system (see PIA06579).

The rings have been brightened relative to the moon to enhance visibility.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 5 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 25, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 670,000 kilometers (416,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 51 degrees. Image scale is 40 kilometers (25 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: August 14, 2009 (PIA 11558)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
mipsandbips (Aug 23, 2009 at 6:39 AM):
It does look closer than the edge of the ring plain; possibly due to its illumination characteristics