• Blog Stats

    • 1,335,470 hits

Shadows on the rings…

The CASSINI probe has been returning some rather nice images recently, showing the shadows of some of Saturn’s being cast on the rings. Images like these…

w00055702

n00133345

The shadows are the long, tapering dark features on the bright rings. Those images by themselves are pretty amazing. But one of my fellow UMSF members, Floyd, spotted something even more amazing on this picture, one of the most recent raw images… click on this picture to bring up a full size version…

n00133374

Can you see that one of the rings, near the centre, has a rather raggedy edge? That must be wrong, right? An imaging artefact of some kind, dust on the lens or something… right? Well, let’s zoom in on that…

n00133374crop

Nope, those are real features on the rings – specifically, the shadows of thousands and thousands of tiny moonlets embedded in the ring! Wow! That has to be one of the highest resolution – and most important – images ever taken of the rings; the Cassini scientists will be able to figure out all sorts of info by measuring and studying those shadows.

For a long time we’ve speculated that Saturn’s rings would look a bit like this, close up…

saturn

Looks like we have our first genuine photo of particles – or at least the shadows of particles – within Saturn’s rings… 🙂