Image: Prometheus Plays Tug of War with One of Saturn's Rings

November 25, 2009
Saturn's moon Prometheus, orbiting near the streamer-channels it has created in the thin F ring, casts a shadow on the A ring in this image taken a little more than a week after the planet's August 2009 equinox. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

( -- The diminutive moon Prometheus whips gossamer ice particles out of Saturn's F ring in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft on Aug. 21, 2009.

The moon and the ring have eccentric, offset orbits, so Prometheus dips in and out of the F ring as it travels around Saturn. Its drags the dust-sized particles at the edge of the F ring along for the ride.

The ability of the potato-shaped Prometheus to pull material out of the F ring was first theorized in the late 1990s and finally imaged by Cassini in 2004. But because these so-called "streamer-channels" have constantly shifted as Prometheus and the F ring have moved, the F ring has never looked the same twice. The of other moons on other rings has created waves in the edges, but nothing quite as extreme as the streamer-channels of Prometheus.

More information: Cassini Captures Ghostly Dance of Saturn's Northern Lights (w/ Video)

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

Explore further: Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed

Related Stories

Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed

December 6, 2004

Stealing is a crime on Earth, but at Saturn, apparently it is routine. The Cassini spacecraft has witnessed Saturn's moon Prometheus snatching particles from one of Saturn's rings. This potato-shaped moon is also believed ...

Cassini finds Prometheus a sculptor of Saturn's rings

October 26, 2005

New findings from members of the Cassini imaging team show that certain prominent features in Saturn's narrow and contorted F ring can be understood in terms of a simple gravitational interaction with the small moon Prometheus. ...

Cassini Finds Possible Origin of One of Saturn's Rings

August 2, 2007

Cassini scientists may have identified the source of one of Saturn's more mysterious rings. Saturn's G ring likely is produced by relatively large, icy particles that reside within a bright arc on the ring's inner edge.

Cassini Images Ring Arcs Among Saturn's Moons

September 5, 2008

( -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected a faint, partial ring orbiting with one small moon of Saturn, and has confirmed the presence of another partial ring orbiting with a second moon. This is further evidence ...

Cassini finds new Saturn moon that makes waves

May 11, 2005

In a spectacular kick-off to its first season of prime ring viewing, which began last month, the Cassini spacecraft has confirmed earlier suspicions of an unseen moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer A ring. A new image ...

Recommended for you

Gaia spies two temporarily magnified stars

October 28, 2016

While scanning the sky to measure the position of over one billion stars in our Galaxy, ESA's Gaia satellite has detected two rare instances of stars whose light was temporarily boosted by other celestial objects passing ...

How planets like Jupiter form

October 28, 2016

Young giant planets are born from gas and dust. Researchers of ETH Zürich and the Universities of Zürich and Bern simulated different scenarios relying on the computing power of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre ...

More than 15,000 near-Earth objects and counting

October 28, 2016

The international effort to find, confirm and catalogue the multitude of asteroids that pose a threat to our planet has reached a milestone: 15 000 discovered – with many more to go.

NASA missions harvest a passel of 'pumpkin' stars

October 27, 2016

Astronomers using observations from NASA's Kepler and Swift missions have discovered a batch of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than 100 times the peak levels ever seen from the sun. The stars, which spin ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.