Here’s a beautiful color portrait of Saturn taken by Cassini during the planet’s 2009 spring equinox last August. Approximately every fifteen years Saturn is angled so that the light from the sun strikes it straight-on, causing the shadows cast by the rings to appear as a pencil-thin line along its equator. The Cassini spacecraft happened to be in orbit around Saturn during its last equinox and was able to take advantage of the unique seasonal lighting to image features of the rings like never before.
The first decade of the new millennium really has been an exciting time in space exploration, with Cassini at the forefront of discovery within our own family of planets!
Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.