Astronomy Picture of the Day

Movie: Cassini Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane

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Movie: Cassini Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane

What would the rings of Saturn look like if you passed right through the ring plane?

To find out, NASA aimed cameras from the
Cassini spacecraft right at
Saturn's rings as the
>robotic explorer passed from the sunlit side of the rings to the
shadowed side.

Resulting images from a vantage point outside the rings and most moons,
but inside the orbit of Titan,
have been gathered together in the
above time-lapse movie.

The dramatic movie
demonstrates that ring particle density and
reflectivity makes some parts of the shadowed side nearly the
photographic negative
of the sunlit side, but nearly empty regions remain continually dark.

Visible also are Saturn-orbiting moons
Prometheus, and

The extreme
thinness of Saturn's rings
can be appreciated from frames taken near the crossing time.

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