Saturn's B-ring: Taking a closer look

Sep 11, 2012
Zooming in on clumps in Saturn’s B-ring (lower left), the image also spans the ringlets of the Cassini Division towards the A-ring in the top right. The view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 31 degrees below the ring plane. The image scale is approximately 2 km per pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

(Phys.org)—Clumpy particles in Saturn's B-ring provide stark contrast to the delicately ordered ringlets seen in the rest of this view presented by the Cassini spacecraft.

Saturn's B-ring is the largest and brightest of the 's rings, the outer portion of which is seen in the left side of this image.

The ring's outside edge is influenced by meddling , which orbits the planet once for every two circuits the icy ring particles complete.

These periodic gravity perturbations are thought to compress the ring particles into , while maintaining the ring's well-defined outer edge.

Beyond the B-ring lies the Huygens gap, the widest dark void visible in this image, punctuated only by the bright Huygens ringlet. The 4800 km-wide Cassini Division separates the B-ring from the outermost A-ring, but itself is marked out with faint, concentric strands of ring material.

From Earth, the Cassini Division appears as a thin black gap in Saturn's rings, but close-up views from spacecraft expose the delicate structures in fine detail.

This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 10 July 2009 from a distance of 320 000 km from Saturn.

Cassini is a joint mission between ESA, and ASI and has been in around Saturn since 2004. It is now in its second extended mission phase, the Cassini Solstice Mission, which will continue until 2017.  

Explore further: Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Strings of Shadowy Rings Drape Saturn

Sep 17, 2004

Saturn's ring shadows appear wrapped in a harmonious symphony with the planet in this color view from the Cassini spacecraft. Saturn and its rings would nearly fill the space between Earth and the Moon. Ye ...

Image: Speck between rings

Dec 06, 2010

Saturn's moon Atlas can be seen just above the center of this Cassini spacecraft image as it orbits in the Roche Division between Saturn's A ring and thin F ring.

Revealing Pan's Influence

Jun 28, 2005

Saturn's moon Pan is seen here orbiting within the Encke Gap in Saturn's A ring in two differently processed versions of the same Cassini image. The little moon is responsible for clearing and maintaining ...

Image: Rings around a crescent

Nov 23, 2010

A crescent Saturn appears nestled within encircling rings in this Cassini spacecraft image. Clouds swirl through the atmosphere of the planet and a barely visible Prometheus orbits between the planet's main ...

Saturn's rings are back

Jul 10, 2012

(Phys.org) -- It's been nearly two years since NASA's Cassini spacecraft has had views like these of Saturn's glorious rings. These views are possible again because Cassini has changed the angle at which it ...

Saturn has small moon hidden in ring

Mar 03, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found within Saturn's G ring an embedded moonlet that appears as a faint, moving pinprick of light. Scientists believe it is a main source of the G ring and its ...

Recommended for you

SpaceX rocket explodes during test flight

6 hours ago

A SpaceX rocket exploded in midair during a test flight, though no one was injured, as the company seeks to develop a spacecraft that can return to Earth and be used again.

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

Aug 22, 2014

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Europe launches two navigation satellites

Aug 22, 2014

Two satellites for Europe's rival to GPS were lifted into space on Friday to boost the Galileo constellation to six orbiters of a final 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

Aug 22, 2014

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

Aug 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
Gravity has little or no effect on these rings, it's electromagnetic in nature!