The Face of Beauty
Few sights in the solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly
hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings.
The gas planet's subtle northward gradation from gold to azure is a
striking visual effect that scientists don't fully understand. Current
thinking says that it may be related to seasonal influences, tied to the
cold temperatures in the northern (winter) hemisphere. Despite Cassini's
revelations, Saturn remains a world of mystery.
Currently, the rings' shadows shield the mid-northern latitudes from the
harshest of the sun's rays. As Saturn travels around the sun in its
29-year orbit, the shadows will narrow and head southward, eventually
blanketing the opposite hemisphere.
Images taken with blue, green and red spectral filters were used to
create this color view, which approximates the scene as it would appear
to the human eye. The view was brightened to enhance detail visible in the
rings and within their shadows.
The images were obtained with the Cassini wide-angle camera from a
distance of approximately 999,000 kilometers (621,000 miles) from Saturn
on May 4, 2005, as the spacecraft cruised a few degrees above the ring
plane. The image scale is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) per pixel on
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.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at
courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
image id: PIA07772