New Close-Up Images Of Saturn’s Rings Are Jaw-Dropping

Posted: Jan 31 2017, 12:48am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

New Close-Up Images of Saturn’s Rings are Jaw-Dropping
This Cassini image features a density wave in Saturn's A ring. Credit: NASA/JPL
 

NASA releases some of the closest-ever images of Saturn's main rings

NASA has just released a some spectacular close-up images of Saturn’s rings. The new images reveal Saturn’s icy rings and their spiral grooved pattern at a level of detail never before possible. 

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has taken many images of the Saturn’s rings system before, but the newly-released images are some of the closest-ever, providing an unprecedented insight into the fine details of Saturn’s A, B, and F rings. 

"As the person who planned those initial orbit-insertion ring images—which remained our most detailed views of the rings for the past 13 years—I am taken aback by how vastly improved are the details in this new collection," said Carolyn Porco Cassini Imaging Team Lead from Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado. "How fitting it is that we should go out with the best views of Saturn's rings we've ever collected.”

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

Cassini spacecraft is in the final stage of its 13-year long mission. The phase, called Ring-Grazing orbits, was started on November 30 and will continue until late April this year when the spacecraft will make a fatal plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere. 

The Ring-Grazing phase consists of 20 orbits. During this series of orbits, Cassini will fly above and around the outer edges of Saturn’s main rings. While plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will capture some of the closest ever views of the ringed planet. For instance, small-scale features with names like "straw" and "propellers” have not been viewed from closely above until now. The level of detail is twice as high as it had ever been observed before.

“These close views represent the opening of an entirely new window onto Saturn's rings, and over the next few months we look forward to even more exciting data as we train our cameras on other parts of the rings closer to the planet.” Matthew Tiscareno, a Cassini scientist who studies Saturn's rings at the SETI, said.

Launched in 1997, Cassini has been exploring the Saturn system since arriving there in 2004. Its next dive will take place on February 3. 

 

 

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