Saturn's Rings Appear to Behead a Moon
Saturn's trademark rings appear to slice through the gas giant's largest moon Titan in a new photo taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
The rings of Saturn are partially obscured by the planet's shadow in the in newly released photo. The night side of the planet is located to the left, out of the frame of the image. Titan, which is illuminated, can be seen above, below and through gaps in Saturn's rings.
The moon Mimas, which is 246 miles (396 km) across can be seen near the bottom of the image, and Atlas, which is 19 miles (30 km) across is barely detectable near the thin F ring to the right of center on the upper part of the ring.?
The lit terrain seen in the photo is the area between the leading hemisphere (the hemisphere that faces forward, into the direction of the satellite's motion) and the Saturn-facing side of Titan (3,200 miles or 5,150 kilometers across). The image's perspective looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane.
The image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera in visible green light. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2.2 million miles (3.5 million km) from Titan and 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km) from Mimas.
The Cassini probe launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004, where it dropped the European-built Huygens probe on the cloudy surface of Titan. Cassini was slated to be decommissioned in September of this year, but has received an extended mission that now runs through 2017.
The joint Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. It is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
- Images - The Rings and Moons of Saturn
- Cassini's Latest Discoveries
- Saturn Moon's Heat Aura Looks Just Like Pac-Man
- Special Report: Cassini's Mission to Saturn
MORE FROM SPACE.com