The brilliant supergiant star, Rigel, emerges from behind the haze of Saturn's upper atmosphere in this Cassini view.
Rigel is one of the 10 brightest stars in Earth's sky and forms the left foot (sometimes referred to as the left knee) of the familiar constellation Orion.
Imaging scientists use views like these to probe the vertical structure of haze in Saturn's upper atmosphere. The dimming of the star at each altitude in the atmosphere yields information on the density of the haze at that location.
The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 28, 2006 at a distance of approximately 663,000 kilometers (412,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 4 kilometers (2 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/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.