NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures close-up of plateaus of Saturn’s C ring
NASA has released a close-up view of Saturn’s C ring region that is uniformly bright.
According to the US space agency, a dozen regions of Saturn's C ring stand out as noticeably brighter than the rest of the ring, while about half a dozen regions are devoid of ring material. Scientists call the bright regions “plateaus” and the devoid regions “gaps.”
Scientists have determined that the plateaus are relatively bright because they have higher particle density and reflect more light, but researchers haven’t solved the trickier puzzle of how the plateaus are created and maintained, as per reports.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 62 degrees above the ring plane.
The image was taken on January 9, 2017 in green light with the Cassini spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera.
The spacecraft obtained the image while approximately 194,000 miles (312,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 67 degrees. Image scale is 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.