Subtle features in Saturn's equatorial region and the nearly edge-on rings are captured in this view. Images like this will be carefully studied to see if changes in wind speed recorded in Hubble Space Telescope images are continuing, or whether the winds have reverted to their high-speed configuration measured by Voyager in 1981.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 6, 2005 using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 727 nanometers and at a distance of approximately 3 million kilometers (1.9 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 35 kilometers (22 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.