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Cassini's First View of Iapetus.

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Saturn's moon Iapetus.
Saturn's moon Iapetus: Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Jun 22, 2004 Cassini has turned to look at another of Saturn's moons; this time it's Iapetus. This image was taken on May 23, 2004, when Cassini was 20.2 million kilometres (12.5 million miles) from Iapetus. Although it's small and hazy in this picture, the Moon is much larger than Phoebe, and measures 1436 km (892 miles) across. It was first photographed up close by the Voyager spacecraft, which found that it has a light and a dark side - this duality is just barely visible in this image.

This Cassini image hints at the split personality of Saturn’s 1436 kilometer (892 mile)-wide Moon Iapetus. The Voyager spacecraft first imaged this curious yin/yang moon, with its light and dark hemispheres. The dark hemisphere is the side of Iapetus that leads in its orbit. In this view, both light and dark areas are visible.

The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on May 23, 2004, from a distance of 20.2 million kilometers (12.5 million miles) from Iapetus. The image scale is 12 kilometers (75 miles) per pixel. The image was magnified to aid visibility.

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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org.

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