Saturn's plaid rings. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Saturn’s Rings Have Gone Plaid

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Are Saturn’s rings spinning at ludicrous speeds? It appears they have gone plaid! The Cassini spacecraft has actually spied two types of waves in Saturn’s A ring: a spiral density wave on the left of the image and a more pronounced spiral bending wave near the middle. And the “plaid” look comes from the slight pixelation visible near the brightest and darkest lines, which the Cassini team says is an unavoidable result of the size of the camera’s sensor and of image processing.

And if you don’t get the “plaid” reference, go watch Spaceballs.

The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 11, 2010 at a distance of approximately 279,000 kilometers (173,000 miles) from Saturn.

Source: Cassini

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5 Responses

  1. Dark Gnat says:

    “May the Schwartz be with you!”

  2. Aqua says:

    “…a spiral density wave on the left of the image and a more pronounced spiral bending wave near the middle…”

    And this phenomena is generated by Saturn’s moons? or perhaps Saturn’s rotating gravitational field interacting with those moons in a harmonic response? oTay.. I think I get it?

  3. ND says:

    I knew it. I’m surrounded by <censored>!

  4. Paul Eaton-Jones says:

    The above description doesn’t seem very pronounced or obvious on the image I have.

  5. Kemp Woods says:

    I see a ludicrous number of rings– again– and can only imagine the magnitude of pristine sorting an astrogeoligist might find in tens of thousands of fine lined rings. I know there are distinctive main rings but can anyone tell me if the superfine lines within these rings are concentric or maybe spiraled? Or cases of both?
    I was amazed when Voyager showed hundreds of rings but this Cassini image looks to show many thousands. A miners paradise for sure.
    Must also mention that there must be life on Saturn and Jupiter, however primitive, and can’t understand why the scientific community pretty much dismisses that thought yet will earnestly consider microbes in the acidic atmosphere of Venus.

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