This image shows Saturn as seen from NASA/ESA's Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, on 9 November 2003, when it was about 111 million kilometres from the planet.
The view offered by this photo is very different from the one we can get from Earth: it shows Saturn's dark side! As Cassini-Huygens approaches its target, its vision of Saturn's atmosphere and rings will sharpen dramatically. Once it has arrived in July 2004, Cassini-Huygens will begin to study the Saturnian system, effectively becoming its first artificial moon.
"After more than a decade of preparation and waiting for arrival, it is satisfying to see the Saturnian moons in this approach picture," said Dr Gerhard Neukum, an imaging team member and professor at the Freie Universitaet, Berlin, Germany.
In January 2005, Cassini-Huygens will approach Titan, Saturn's largest natural moon, and will release ESA's Huygens probe into its atmosphere. Huygens will descend down to the surface of Titan, studying the complex organic chemistry there that may provide clues as to how life began on Earth.