Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Cassini crosses Saturn's ring plane, 4 February 2007

Cassini crosses Saturn's ring plane, 4 February 2007

Click to view full image

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / Gordan Ugarkovic

Cassini crosses Saturn's ring plane, 4 February 2007
Twice each orbit, Cassini crosses through the plane of Saturn's rings. This crossing, on 4 February 2007, was from the south to the north, from the lit to the unlit side of the rings. The animation, presented in approximately true color, shows how the rings are (unsurprisingly) much darker when viewed from their unlit side than when viewed from the lit side.

 The most opaque ring, the B ring, which casts the broadest, blackest shadow across the northern face of Saturn, changes most in brightness from lit to unlit side, while the much more transparent C ring, located closer to Saturn than the B ring (and which casts the thin groove-like shadows across Saturn's near-equatorial regions) changes very little in appearance as Saturn crosses the plane. This 11-frame animation was created from frames taken by Cassini's wide-angle camera through red, green, and blue filters; the frames are 20 minutes apart, so the whole animation spans two hours and 40 minutes. During that time, Saturn rotates nearly a quarter turn, which can be seen in the motions of clouds in the northern latitudes. At the very end of the animation, a bright dot -- the moon Enceladus -- appears on the far side of Saturn's rings. In the full-resolution version of the animation (GIF format, 3.2 MB), Epimetheus is also visible, running ahead of, and faster than, Enceladus.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For uses not allowed by that license, contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder: Gordan Ugarkovic

Explore related images: BMSIL, photo taken from space, pretty pictures, Cassini, data art (was amateur image processing), The Saturn system, Saturn, animation, Saturn's rings

You are here:
Comments & Sharing
More Images
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.


"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

I'm In!