Rare and spectacular view of Saturn by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn’s shadow. Also captured in this image are two of Saturn’s moons: Enceladus and Tethys. Can you see them? Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The two Saturn’s moons both appear on the left side of the planet, below the rings. Enceladus is closer to the rings; Tethys is below and to the left.
The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase.
Since images like this can only be taken while the sun is behind the planet, this beautiful view is all the more precious for its rarity. The last time Cassini captured a view like this was in Sept. 2006, when it captured a mosaic processed to look like natural color, entitled “In Saturn’s Shadow.” In that mosaic, planet Earth put in a special appearance, making “In Saturn’s Shadow” one of the most popular Cassini images to date. Earth does not appear in this mosaic as it is hidden behind the planet.