Saturn’s Graceful Ripples

Saturn’s Graceful Ripples

This image shows the outer C and inner B rings respectively from left to right, with the inner B ring beginning a little more than halfway across the image. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

This false color image of two density waves in Saturn’s A ring was made from the stellar occultation observed by Cassini’s ultraviolet imaging spectrograph when the spacecraft was 6.8 million kilometers (4.2 million miles) from Saturn.

Bright areas indicate the denser regions of the rings. The bright bands in the left part of the image are the "peaks" of a density wave caused by gravitational stirring of the rings by Saturn’s moon, Janus.

A smaller density wave in the right half of the image is produced by the moon Pandora.

Rings’ fine structure. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

The ultraviolet imaging spectrograph observed the brightness of the star Xi Ceti as the rings passed in front of it, and the flickering of the starlight was converted into the ring density depicted by the image.

The image represents a distance of about 724 kilometers (450 miles), and the smallest features are about one-half mile across.

The ultraviolet imaging spectrograph was built at, and the team is based at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Related Web Pages

Saturn Edition, Astrobiology Magaz.
Saturn’s Rings in UV
Cassini Closes In on Saturn

Saturn– JPL Cassini Main Page
Lord of the Rings
Space Science Institute, Imaging Team Boulder, Colorado
Saturn: The Closest Pass
Prebiotic Laboratory
Planet Wannabe
Where is Cassini Now?