Saturn's south pole, seen here by the Cassini spacecraft, is in twilight as Saturn nears equinox (August 2009). Soon, the pole will enter its 15-year-long night.
This mosaic consists of four images that were digitally reprojected onto a computer model of Saturn, and aligned there, in order to account for the spacecraft's motion and the planet's rotation.
The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 18, 2008 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 869,000 kilometers (540,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 37 degrees. Mosaic scale is 49 kilometers (30 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