With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun’s blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before.
This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The mosaic images were acquired as the spacecraft drifted in the darkness of Saturn’s shadow for about 12 hours, allowing a multitude of unique observations of the microscopic particles that comprise Saturn’s faint rings.
The narrowly confined G ring is easily seen here, outside the bright main rings. Encircling the entire system is the much more extended E ring. The icy plumes of Enceladus, whose eruptions supply the E ring particles, betray the moon’s position in the E ring’s left side edge.
Interior to the G ring and above the brighter main rings is the pale dot of Earth. Cassini views its point of origin from close to a billion miles away in the icy depths of the outer solar system.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute