Saturn's entire main ring system spreads out below Cassini in this night side view, which shows the rings disappearing into the planet's shadow.
This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 48 degrees above the ringplane. In the upper right corner lies the darkened northern hemisphere; beneath it, the lit side of the rings casts reflected sunlight, or ringshine, onto southern latitudes, lighting up the skies there. A sliver of light from Saturn's sunlit side pierces the top of the image.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 5, 2006 at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (800,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 69 kilometers (43 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