Eerie raw photos from Cassini’s 2nd great Saturn dive

http://www.seattlepi.com/aboutus/article/Eerie-raw-photos-from-Cassini-s-2nd-great-Saturn-11127843.php#photo-12860532



Updated 3:32 pm, Sunday, May 7, 2017

This movie sequence of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the view as Cassini swooped over Saturn during the first of its Grand Finale dives between the planet and its rings on April 26.Â


Media: Tronc – LA Times

With its camera’s pointed away from the surface of Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft shot some really cool, eerie photos in its second dive between the rings and Jovian planet with the sun behind the planet.

The agency explained that during the second dive in the spacecraft’s final 22 orbits before it crashes into the planet:

“Cassini’s imaging cameras, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), takes advantage of the last opportunity to observe Saturn’s rings at extremely high phase angles while the Sun is hidden behind Saturn, allowing the instrument to survey faint ringlets in the main rings, many of which are difficult to observe outside of this geometry. The ISS also collects images to produce a movie to monitor various structures in Saturn’s D ring.”

  • In this photo from Cassini's second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

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In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

less

In this photo from Cassini’s second dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings, the camera was pointing toward SATURN-RINGS, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.

less

This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn’s atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26,

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was obtained about half a day before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn’s main rings during its penultimate mission phase. The view shows part of the giant, hexagon-shaped jet stream around the planet’s north pole. Each side of the hexagon is about as wide as Earth. A circular storm lies at the center, at the pole.

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NASA caption: This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was obtained about half a day before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn’s main rings during its penultimate mission phase. The view shows

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: This false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows clouds in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. The view was made using images taken by Cassini’s wide-angle camera on July 20, 2016, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to infrared light at 750, 727 and 619 nanometers.

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NASA caption: This false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows clouds in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. The view was made using images taken by Cassini’s wide-angle camera on July 20, 2016, using a

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: Saturn’s moons Janus and Mimas coast in their silent orbits beyond the rings in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The ansa, or outer edge of the rings, is visible at left. Janus hangs above center, while Mimas shines at right. Owing to its irregular shape, Janus’ terminator – that line which separates day from night – is jagged, while Mimas’ smooth terminator attests to its round shape and larger size. The image was taken in green light with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera on Oct. 27, 2015.

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NASA caption: Saturn’s moons Janus and Mimas coast in their silent orbits beyond the rings in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The ansa, or outer edge of the rings, is visible at left. Janus hangs

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: At first glance, the most obvious features in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft are Saturn’s rings and the icy moon Enceladus. Upon closer inspection, Saturn’s night side is also visible (near top center), faintly illuminated by sunlight reflected off the rings. In this view, icy Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) hangs in the space between Cassini and the giant planet. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from 0.14 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 18, 2015.

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NASA caption: At first glance, the most obvious features in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft are Saturn’s rings and the icy moon Enceladus. Upon closer inspection, Saturn’s night side is also visible

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: An ethereal, glowing spot appears on Saturn’s B ring in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. There is nothing particular about that place in the rings that produces the glowing effect — instead, it is an example of an “opposition surge” making that area on the rings appear extra bright. An opposition surge occurs when the sun is directly behind the observer looking toward the rings. The particular geometry of this observation makes the point in the rings appear much, much brighter than would otherwise be expected. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 28 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini wide-angle camera on June 26, 2016.

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NASA caption: An ethereal, glowing spot appears on Saturn’s B ring in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. There is nothing particular about that place in the rings that produces the glowing effect —

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: This collage of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Each filter is sensitive to different wavelengths of light and reveals clouds and hazes at different altitudes. Clockwise from top left, the filters used are sensitive to violet (420 nanometers), red (648 nanometers), near-infrared (728 nanometers) and infrared (939 nanometers) light. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016, at a distance of about 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 95 miles (153 kilometers) per pixel.

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NASA caption: This collage of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Each filter is sensitive to different

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues its weekly ring-grazing orbits, diving just past the outside of Saturn’s F ring, it is tracking several small, persistent objects there. These images show two such objects that Cassini originally detected in spring 2016, as the spacecraft transitioned from more equatorial orbits to orbits at increasingly high inclination about the planet’s equator. Imaging team members studying these objects gave them the informal designations F16QA (right image) and F16QB (left image). The researchers have observed that objects such as these occasionally crash through the F ring’s bright core, producing spectacular collisional structures (see PIA08863), similar to those created in 2006 and 2007 by the object designated S/2004 S 6 (see PIA07716). While these objects may be mostly loose agglomerations of tiny ring particles, scientists suspect that small, fairly solid bodies lurk within each object, given that they have survived several collisions with the ring since their discovery.

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NASA caption: As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues its weekly ring-grazing orbits, diving just past the outside of Saturn’s F ring, it is tracking several small, persistent objects there. These images show

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured these remarkable views of a propeller feature in Saturn’s A ring on Feb. 21, 2017. These are the sharpest images taken of a propeller so far, and show an unprecedented level of detail. The propeller is nicknamed “Santos-Dumont,” after the pioneering Brazilian-French aviator. This observation was Cassini’s first targeted flyby of a propeller. The views show the object from vantage points on opposite sides of the rings. The top image looks toward the rings’ sunlit side, while the bottom image shows the unilluminated side, where sunlight filters through the backlit ring. The two images presented above are reprojected at the same scale (0.13 mile or 207 meters per pixel) in order to facilitate comparison.

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NASA caption: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured these remarkable views of a propeller feature in Saturn’s A ring on Feb. 21, 2017. These are the sharpest images taken of a propeller so far, and show an

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: When seen up close, the F ring of Saturn resolves into multiple dusty strands. 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.

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NASA caption: When seen up close, the F ring of Saturn resolves into multiple dusty strands. This Cassini view shows three bright strands and a very faint fourth strand off to the right. The central strand is

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: Saturn’s moon Daphnis raises waves wherever it goes. In fact, such waves are one way that scientists search for undiscovered moons in the ring gaps. But they can tell researchers a lot of other things, as well. The waves that Daphnis (5 miles or 8 kilometers across) raises on the edges of the Keeler Gap can also be used to deduce the moon’s mass and even some of its orbital behavior. Since the moon moves in and out of the ring-plane, and closer to and farther from the rings’ edges as it orbits, the waves it makes change over time.

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NASA caption: Saturn’s moon Daphnis raises waves wherever it goes. In fact, such waves are one way that scientists search for undiscovered moons in the ring gaps. But they can tell researchers a lot of other

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: Saturn’s icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet’s enormous rings. Because Mimas (near lower left) appears tiny by comparison, it might seem that the rings would be far more massive, but this is not the case. Scientists think the rings are no more than a few times as massive as Mimas, or perhaps just a fraction of Mimas’ mass. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 6 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 21, 2016.

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NASA caption: Saturn’s icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet’s enormous rings. Because Mimas (near lower left) appears tiny by comparison, it might seem that the rings would be far more massive, but this is

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: Daphnis, one of Saturn’s ring-embedded moons, is featured in this view, kicking up waves as it orbits within the Keeler gap. The mosaic combines several images to show more waves in the gap edges than seen in a previously released image, PIA21056. Daphnis is a small moon at 5 miles (8 kilometers) across, but its gravity is powerful enough to disrupt the tiny particles of the A ring that form the Keeler gap’s edge. As the moon moves through the Keeler gap, wave-like features are created in both the horizontal and vertical plane.

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NASA caption: Daphnis, one of Saturn’s ring-embedded moons, is featured in this view, kicking up waves as it orbits within the Keeler gap. The mosaic combines several images to show more waves in the gap edges

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn’s rings. The rings are made up of many smaller ringlets that blur together when seen from a distance. But when imaged up close, the rings’ structures display quite a bit of variation. Ring scientists are debating the nature of these features — whether they have always appeared this way or if their appearance has evolved over time.

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NASA caption: This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn’s rings. The rings are made up of many smaller ringlets that blur together when seen from a

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: Titan and Saturn have very few things in common, but a hazy appearance is one feature they share. Though they appear similar in this image, appearances can be misleading. Although both Saturn and Titan (3,200 miles or 5,150 kilometers across) have thick atmospheres and are covered in clouds, their differences are significant. Saturn is a gas giant with no solid surface to speak of. Titan’s atmosphere is a blanket surrounding an icy, solid body. Even their atmospheric compositions are different; Saturn is mostly hydrogen and helium with clouds of water and ammonia and ammonium hydrosulfide. Titan’s atmosphere is primarily nitrogen with methane clouds.

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NASA caption: Titan and Saturn have very few things in common, but a hazy appearance is one feature they share. Though they appear similar in this image, appearances can be misleading. Although both Saturn and

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Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA caption: The north pole of Saturn sits at the center of its own domain. Around it swirl the clouds, driven by the fast winds of Saturn. Beyond that orbits Saturn’s retinue of moons and the countless small particles that form the ring. Although the poles of Saturn are at the center of all of this motion, not everything travels around them in circles. Some of the jet-stream patterns, such as the hexagon-shaped pattern seen here, have wavy, uneven shapes. The moons as well have orbits that are elliptical, some quite far from circular. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 26 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light.

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NASA caption: The north pole of Saturn sits at the center of its own domain. Around it swirl the clouds, driven by the fast winds of Saturn. Beyond that orbits Saturn’s retinue of moons and the countless small

… more

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


During this orbit, Cassini gets within 1,820 miles of Saturn’s outer atmosphere and within 2,980 miles of the inner edge of Saturn’s D ring.

“No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape.”

Check out the photos from the second dive and first as well in the gallery above.

Cassini will make its next dare-devil dive through the gap on May 9.


Jake Ellison can be reached at jakeellisonjournalism@gmail.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/Jake_News. Also, swing by and *LIKE* his page on Facebook. If Google Plus is your thing, check out our science coverage here.


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