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Cassini zoom in on A ring

Saturn's A ring in a picture by the NASA-ESA-ASI spacecraft

NASA's Cassini spacecraft zoomed in on Saturn's A ring, revealing narrow, detailed structures that get even finer as the cameras' resolution increases. Even at this level of detail, it is still not fine enough to resolve the individual particles that make up the ring.

 

High-resolution images like this help scientists map the fine structure of Saturn's rings. Features less than a one kilometer in size are resolvable here. But the particles in the A ring typically range in size from several meters across down to centimeters, making them still far too small to see individually here.

 

This view looks toward the sunlit 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 Jan. 9, 2017.

 

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 113,000 kilometers from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 11 degrees. Image scale is 690 meters per pixel.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).  
 


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.