ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - News ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - News
CASSINI'S NEW IMAGE

Hide and seek between the rings

New image taken by the Cassini spacecraft in which contains disturbances in the rings caused by moonlet's gravity

What appears as a pair of bright dashes at the center of this image is one of the features rings scientists have dubbed "propellers". This particular propeller, named Bleriot, marks the presence of a body that is much larger than the particles that surround it, yet too small to clear out a complete gap in the rings (like Pan and Daphnis) and become a moon in its own right. Although the moonlet at the core of the propeller is itself too small to see, the disturbances in the rings caused by its gravity betray its presence.

 

Cassini scientists have been tracking propeller features like this one for years in order to learn how their orbits change over time. From this, they hope to gain insight into how forming planets migrate in the disks in which they form.

 

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 59 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 acquired at a distance of approximately 359,000 kilometers from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 73 degrees. Image scale is 2 kilometers 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.