There's More to This Image of Saturn Than Meets the Eye

Illustration for article titled Theres More to This Image of Saturn Than Meets the Eye

Although it might look like a lot of the other images you've seen of Saturn, there's far more to this picture than meets the eye.


Actually, it's an infrared image captured using a special filter which only allows light polarized in a single direction to hit the sensor. That allows researchers to understand more about the particles which make up the planet's rings.


For instance, that bright spot is called the "opposition surge"—where the Sun-Ring-Spacecraft angle passes through zero degrees—and its size and magnitude help reveal properties of the ring particles. The image was acquired by Cassini using wide-angle camera, approximately 712,000 miles from Saturn. [NASA]

Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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Greg the Mad

I don't quite understand that, is that a reflection, or refraction of the sun?

0° would mean reflection to me, but I'm not sure.