Tiny Moon Daphnis Makes Waves In Saturn’s Rings

Posted: Jan 19 2017, 7:03am CST | by , Updated: Jan 19 2017, 7:11am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Tiny Moon Daphnis Makes Waves in Saturn’s Rings
Credit: NASA/JPL
 

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's small moon Daphnis as it raises waves in nearby ring

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured the closest view of Saturn’s moon Daphnis to date. In the image taken on January 16, 2017, the tiny moon can be seen raising edge waves in the rings of Saturn.

Daphnis, an inner moon of Saturn, exists in a very narrow gap outside the Saturn’s A Ring, known as Keeler Gap and orbits the planet while staying within this rift. The moon raises ring material as it travels through the Keeler Gap. The new image specifically highlights the fine details of the waves generated by the moon as it passes through. Since Daphnis orbits within the 42-kilometer wide Keeler Gap, the waves it makes look different every time and Cassini spacecraft has been observing these changes ever since it has arrived at Saturn’s Orbit.

The image was captured in visible light while Cassini was making one of its close passes over the outer edges of Saturn’s rings, at a distance of approximately 17,000 miles from Daphnis, making it the closest ever view of the small moon.

Saturn’s small moon Daphnis was discovered in May 2005 and has been named after the inventor of pastoral poetry in Greek mythology. The moon is around 8 meters across. 

“Like a couple of Saturn's other small ring moons, Atlas and Pan, Daphnis appears to have a narrow ridge around its equator and a fairly smooth mantle of material on its surface -- likely an accumulation of fine particles from the rings. A few craters are obvious at this resolution.” NASA website says.

The image also gives us a clearer picture of Saturn rings, including the several lanes across these structures.

The recent phase of Cassini, known as Ring-Grazing orbits began on November 30 last year and will continue till April 22 this year. It consists of a series of close dives over and around the edges of Saturn rings. The new phase is aiming to provide the closest ever views of Saturn’s main rings in a level of detail that has not seen before.

 

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