The clouds of Saturn swirl, billow and merge. Its source is particles blasted off the moons' surfaces by meteoroid impacts, which then form a diffuse ring around their orbital paths. These bands are layered into stratified cloud decks consisting of droplets of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water set aloft in a sea of hydrogen a... To the Cassini spacecraft's infrared eyes, Saturn's graceful clouds sometimes take on the appearance of an impressionist's painting of the giant planet. From the planet outward, they are D, C, B, A, F, G and E. The D ring is very faint and closest to Saturn. Another possibility is that moons the size and composition of Tethys or Dione broke apart. This ring, made of frozen water droplets, can be seen in visible light, unlike the outer Phoebe ring The Phoebe ring is so distant it is not influenced by the tilt of Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft looks down onto high northern latitudes on Tethys, spying the enormous impact basin Odysseus. NASA's Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that one day could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel. The Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn in July 2004. Conversely, small bodies within the Roche limit are prevented by tidal forces from aggregating into larger objects. Seasonal cues tell Arctic animals when to migrate, when to mate, and when and where to find food. They tend to come in several types: rings are broad sheets of material, while ringlets are narrower. At this rate, the rings will disappear in 292 million years. When seen up close, the F ring of Saturn resolves into multiple dusty strands. Lying between 1.95 and 2.02 Saturn radii and not devoid of particles, the Cassini division exhibits complicated variations in optical depth, with an average value of 0.1. The rings strongly reflect sunlight, and a spectroscopic analysis of the reflected light shows the presence of water ice, in addition to darker contaminants. Daphnis, the anticipated corresponding moon within the Keeler gap, was found in Cassini images in 2005. In addition to the Cassini division, they include the Colombo, Maxwell, Bond, and Dawes gaps (1.29, 1.45, 1.47, and 1.50 Saturn radii, respectively), within the C ring; the Huygens gap (1.95 Saturn radii), at the outer edge of the B ring; the Encke gap (2.21 Saturn radii), a gap in the outer part of the A ring; and the Keeler gap (2.26 Saturn radii), almost at the outer edge of the A ring. Because the rings have such a low mass, it is likely that they are very young, between 10 and 100 million years old. This Cassini view shows three bright strands and a very faint fourth strand off to the right. See Hugyens' Landing Site and... A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower. The Cassini spacecraft gazes down at the marvelous rings and swirling clouds of giant Saturn from above the planet's north pole. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, who began studying Saturn with an improved telescope in 1655, eventually deduced the true shape of the rings and the fact that the ring plane was inclined substantially to Saturn’s orbit. In 1857 the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated mathematically that the rings could be stable only if they comprised a very large number of small particles, a deduction confirmed about 40 years later by the American astronomer James Keeler. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The rings are made of very small, dark particles the size of smoke particles. The limit applies only to objects held together by gravitational attraction; it does not restrict the stability of a relatively small body for which molecular cohesion is more important than the tidal forces tending to pull it apart. methane. Although the location of this boundary clearly shows the influence of the resonance in sculpting the inner edge of the Cassini division, the remainder of the division’s structure is not fully understood. The D ring is very faint and closest to Saturn. In general, the number of known moons and resonances falls far short of what is needed to account for the countless thousands of ringlets and other fine structure in Saturn’s ring system. This distance, which for the idealized case is 2.44 Saturn radii (147,000 km [91,300 miles]), represents the closest distance to which a fairly large moon can approach the centre of its more-massive planetary parent before it is torn apart by tidal forces. Atlas (30 kilometers, or 19 miles across) is near the center of the image. A faint dust ring is present around the region occupied by the orbits of Janus and Epimetheus, as revealed by images taken in forward-scattered light by the Cassini spacecraft in 2006. The planet has four main rings and three fainter outer rings. You... NASA's Cassini spacecraft spied details on the pockmarked surface of Saturn's moon Prometheus (86 kilometers, or 53 miles across) during a moderately close flyby on Dec. 6, 2015. From edge-to-edge, the ring system would not even fit in the distance between Earth and the Moon. A shift in these cues is already happening. Other theories indicate that a gap can also be cleared in a ring region that is in orbital resonance with a moon whose orbit is substantially internal or external to the ring. Social Media Lead: Interior to the B ring lies the third major ring, the C ring (sometimes known as the crepe ring), at 1.23 to 1.52 Saturn radii, with optical depths near 0.1. The Cassini spacecraft views Rhea and the bright, rayed crater that is likely one of the younger features on the moon's surface. Beyond the G ring is the extremely broad and diffuse E ring, which extends from 3 to at least 8 Saturn radii. Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across), like the other airless worlds of the Solar System, w... With NASA's Eyes on the Earth web-based app, you can tag along with the U.S.-European satellite as it orbits the globe. THE C RING The C ring is located inside B ring (closer to Saturn). The entire ring system spans nearly 26,000,000 km (16,000,000 miles) when the faint outer rings are included. Image of Saturn captured by Cassini during the first radio occultation observation of the planet, 2005. In some parts of the rings, where collisions are apparently more frequent, even smaller (dust-sized) grains are present, but these have short lifetimes owing to a variety of loss mechanisms. Other small satellites have tenuous rings or ring arcs associated with them, including the co-orbital moons Janus and Epimetheus, Methone, Anthe, and Pallene. They are produced by dust kicked up from the tiny innermost moons of Jupiter by impacts on the moons. Cassini also discovered a 400-metre (1,300-foot) moonlet in the B ring, although it does not appear to clear a gap. When this is the case, a given ring particle will always make close approaches to the moon at the same points in its orbit, and gravitational perturbations to the particle’s orbit will build up over time, eventually forcing the particle out of precise resonance. Of these gaps, only Encke was known prior to spacecraft exploration of Saturn. Saturn's rings make up an enormous, complex structure. Some of the major gaps have been named after famous astronomers who were associated with studies of Saturn (see below Observations from Earth). The small moon Enceladus is a fascinating example. Just outside the A ring is the narrow F ring, shepherded by tiny moons, Pandora and Prometheus. Effects of other resonances of this kind are seen throughout the ring system, but many similar features cannot be so explained. Material from the rings can become charged through photoionization or by micrometeorite impact. This artist's conception shows Titan's surface with Saturn appearing dimly Saturn, the B Ring is the inner of the two wide rings, the Cassini Division is the gap between the two widest rings, and the A Ring is the outer of the two wide ringsThe B Ring is the innermost of the two largest, brightest rings. The main rings are A, B and C. The outermost ring, easily seen with Earth-based telescopes, is the A ring.
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