RINGS UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
Cassini 'abstract art painter'
Saturn's F Ring portrayed in a picture by the NASA-ESA-ASI spacecraft
When seen up close, the F Ring of Saturn resolves into multiple dusty strands, similar to abstract brush strokes. This Cassini view shows three bright strands and a very faint fourth strand off to the right.
The central strand is the core of the F Ring. The other strands are not independent at all, but are actually sections of long spirals of material that wrap around Saturn. The material in the spirals was likely knocked out from the F Ring's core during interactions with a small moon.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 18, 2016.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 197.000 kilometers from Saturn and at a Sun-Ring-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 47 degrees. Image scale is 1,2 kilometers per pixel.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.
ASI is one of the partners of the Cassini mission: on the basis of a cooperation agreement with NASA it has developed for Cassini the high gain antenna with the incorporation of a low-gain antenna (that ensure telecommunications with the Earth for the entire duration of the mission), the VIMS spectrometer, the radio-science subsystem (RSIS) and the radar which also uses the high-gain antenna.
ASI has also developed for the Huygens spacecraft the HASI instrument which measured the physical properties of the atmosphere and Titan's surface.