Saturn's tiny moon Atlas appears almost indistinguishable from the background stars seen in this Cassini spacecraft image.
Atlas (30 kilometers, or 19 miles across) orbits in the Roche Division between the A ring and the thin F ring. The moon, just to the left of the center of the image, appears slightly larger than the background stars here. See PIA08405 for a closer view of Atlas.
This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 11 degrees below the ringplane. To enhance the visibility of features, the A ring has been brightened by a factor of two relative to the F ring.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 2, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Atlas. Image scale is 14 kilometers (9 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.