CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Oblate Iapetus

Oblate Iapetus
PIA 12556

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  The oblate shape of the moon Iapetus is particularly noticeable in this portrait.

The two-toned surface of the moon Iapetus also stands out against the darkness of space in this image. See PIA11690 to learn more about the brightness dichotomy on Iapetus.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Iapetus (1471 kilometers, 914 miles across). North on Iapetus is up and rotated 26 degrees to the left.

Scale in the original image was 22 kilometers (13 miles) per pixel. The image was contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of three to enhance the visibility of surface features. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 16, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 3.6 million kilometers (2.2 million miles) from Iapetus and at a Sun-Iapetus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 27 degrees.

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: February 24, 2010 (PIA 12556)
Image/Caption Information