This Cassini photograph shows particles from Saturn’s F ring streaming after its moon Prometheus. Even though the moon is only 102 km (63 miles) across, its gravity has this kind of an effect on the ring particles. Astronomers are looking forward to 2009, when the moon will travel into the F ring’s core, plowing straight through the particles. Cassini took this photo on Oct.16, 2006 when it was 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Prometheus.
This view, like The Hand of Prometheus, shows Prometheus with a streamer it has created in the inner edge of the F ring. Prometheus comes close to the inner edge of the ring once per orbit, perturbing the ring particles there. In 2009, the moon’s orbit is expected to carry it repeatedly into the F ring core, an event that ring scientists are eagerly awaiting.
Prometheus is 102 kilometers (63 miles) across. This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 40 degrees above the ringplane.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 16, 2006 at a distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Prometheus and at a Sun-Prometheus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 150 degrees. Scale in the original image was 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two.
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 mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Original Source: NASA/JPL/SSI News Release