Emily LakdawallaSep 05, 2007

Cassini's approaching view of Iapetus

I don't believe I'm going to get my Iapetus preview story in the shape I want it to be in time to post it today, but I thought you might enjoy seeing this image as a bit of a teaser. Cassini took the images for this photo from a distance of about 1.5 million kilometers, and it shows you how Iapetus is a barely-lit crescent. Cassini's forward view will continue to show Iapetus as a crescent throughout the approach phase of the September 10 flyby; it's only as the spacecraft passes the closest approach that it will swing to the daylit side of the moon.

Iapetus in Cassini's forward view

NASA / JPL / SSI / Color composite by Emily Lakdawalla

Iapetus in Cassini's forward view
Cassini captured the images for this view of Iapetus as it approached for its closest flyby of the moon on September 3, 2007 at about 07:00 UTC from a distance of about 1,500,000 kilometers. The full-size image has been enlarged by a factor of three and rotated so that north is up.

Iapetus is one of the few targets in the Saturn system that actually has interesting color variations across its surface, so it is a lot of fun to create color images. If you want to give it a try as Cassini starts returning Iapetus images taken from closer and closer, check out my color imaging tutorials.