Signaling a return to the bright spokes first encountered by the Cassini spacecraft in 2005, three large white spokes stretch out across the B ring. Throughout most of the last year, Cassini captured views of dark spokes.
This image of bright spokes was taken Jan. 14, 2009 in visible light with the spacecraft's wide-angle camera.The small moon Atlas (30 kilometers, or 19 miles across) has been brightened by 30 percent but still appears as a faint dot between the A and F rings in the top right quadrant of the image.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 6 degrees below the ringplane. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 551,000 kilometers (342,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 155 degrees. Image scale is 29 kilometers (18 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.