In a dazzling and dramatic portrait painted by the Sun, the long thin shadows of Saturn's rings sweep across the planet's northern latitudes. Within the shadows, bright bands represent areas where the ring material is less dense, while dark strips and wave patterns reveal areas of denser material.
The shadow darkens sharply near upper right, corresponding to the boundary of the thin C ring with the denser B ring. A wide-field, natural color view of these shadows can be seen here.
The globe of Saturn's moon Mimas (398 kilometers, or 247 miles across) has wandered into view near the bottom of the frame. A few of the large craters on this small moon are visible.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Jan. 18, 2005, at a distance of 1.4 million kilometers (889,000 miles) from Saturn using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The image scale is 9 kilometers (5.5 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 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute