Saturn's Rings Appear to Behead a Moon

Saturn's trademark rings appear to slice through the gasgiant's largest moon Titan in a new photo taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The rings of Saturn are partially obscured by the planet'sshadow in the in newly released photo. The night side of the planet is locatedto the left, out of the frame of the image. Titan, which is illuminated, can beseen above, below and through gaps in Saturn'srings.

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 thinF ring to the right of center on the upper part of the ring.?

The lit terrain seen in the photo is the area between theleading hemisphere (the hemisphere that faces forward, into the direction ofthe satellite's motion) and the Saturn-facing side of Titan (3,200 miles or5,150 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-anglecamera in visible green light. The view was acquired at a distance ofapproximately 2.2 million miles (3.5 million km) from Titan and 1.3 millionmiles (2.1 million km) from Mimas.

The Cassini probe launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in2004, where it dropped the European-built Huygens probe on the cloudy surfaceof Titan. Cassini was slated to be decommissioned in September of this year,but has received an extendedmission that now runs through 2017.

The joint Cassini-Huygensmission is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and theItalian Space Agency. It is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory inPasadena, Calif.

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