Saturn’s Glowing Rings

Article written: 18 Sep , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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The Cassini spacecraft recently flew through the plane of Saturn’s rings and took this straight-on image of the G ring, showing a bright arc of material seen here as it rounds the ring’s edge, or ansa. The spacecraft also took images of the moons Mimas and Calypso (see below). In the image here, the diffuse glow at left shows the extended nature of this faint ring. The view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from less than a degree below the ringplane. The ring moved against the background stars during this exposure, creating the star trails seen here. Cassini scientists and engineers are preparing for an upcoming flyby of the moon Enceladus on October 9. This is the second of seven targeted Enceladus fly-bys in the Extended Mission., and the spacecraft will pass through the moon’s geyser-like plumes in an attempt to measure fields and particles.

Cassini spacecraft scientists think the bright arc in the G Ring contains relatively large, icy particles held in place by a gravitational an orbital resonance with the moon Mimas. Micrometeoroids collide with the large particles, releasing smaller, dust-sized particles that brighten the arc. The plasma in the giant planet’s magnetic field sweeps through this arc continually, dragging out the fine particles and creating the G ring. The ring arc orbits Saturn along the inner edge of the G ring. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 22, 2008, from about 1.2 million kilometers (740,000 miles) from Saturn.

Here’s the image of Mimas and the rings:
Mimas and Saturn's Rings.  Credit:  NASA/JPL

And one of Calypso, too:

Calypso and Saturn's Rings.  Credit:  NASA/JPL

Source: Cassini web page, Twitter


8 Responses

  1. LLDIAZ says

    This is completely off topic but why do you have that posting of jesus on your website asking if he really existed. Evolution versus Creation is a crucial topic for alot of people but it just seems like your picking sides or have made up your mind on the issue. Regardless of your position you guys aren’t the only readers out there, have a little more respect please for those of us that love God and Science.

  2. Felicia says

    ^ I think I have to third that one.

    There was an ad on the RSS feed when the LHC was turned on about the destruction of mankind and the end of the world in 2012. It didn’t fit, but hey, UT doesn’t pick their adverising – your surfing habits do. So…no. 🙂

  3. alandee says

    Meh, Firefox and Adblock 🙂 = problem solved.

    On Topic : Damn Saturn is a beautiful looking planet, I vividly remember my first view through the eyepiece and most of the subsequent first views of others through my eyepiece too !
    Go Cassini, here’s hoping you survive the Enceladus plumes !

  4. marcellus says

    It really blows peoples minds at star parties when it is mentioned that Saturn’s rings, while thousands of miles across, are only sixty to a hundred feet thick. These pictures really drive that home.

    Beautiful!

  5. Danielle says

    It’s neat how different particles gravitate toward each other creating all of the different kinds of rings.

  6. sam says

    i think that saturn’s rings are pretty amazing but to think that they aren’t soild makes you think twice

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