The Cassini spacecraft looks through the dense B ring toward a distant star in an image from a recent stellar occultation observation. These observations point the camera toward a star whose brightness is well known. Then, as Cassini watches the rings pass in front, the star's light fluctuates, providing information about the concentrations of ring particles within the various radial features in the rings.
This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 35 degrees above the ringplane. The star's image is partly saturated, causing the vertical lines that extend up and down.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 26, 2006 at a distance of approximately 543,000 kilometers (338,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 106 degrees. Image scale is about 3 kilometers (2 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute