This Cassini spacecraft image holds an unseen treasure orbiting within the bright arc of Saturn's G ring: the tiny moonlet Aegaeon.
The moonlet itself is too small to be seen within the arc pictured here, but is thought to be the source of the debris forming the bright arc in the lower right portion of the G ring in this image. See PIA11148 to learn more about tiny Aegaeon (formerly known as S/2008 S 1). This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 4 degrees below the ringplane. Many background stars are visible elongated by the motion of the spacecraft during the image's exposure.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 24, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.7 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 10 kilometers (6 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.