Saturn’s wonderful rings

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Saturn's rings, and the small moons that shape them

Cool image time! The image on the right, reduced to fit here, is a recent Cassini image, taken July 2, 2016, that shows the rings as well as the moon Pan nestled within the ring’s narrow gap

Pan (17 miles or 28 kilometers across, left of center) holds open the Encke gap and shapes the ever-changing ringlets within the gap (some of which can be seen here). In addition to raising waves in the A and B rings, other moons help shape the F ring, the outer edge of the A ring and open the Keeler gap. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 2, 2016.

The image also highlights the incredible and quite magical beauty of Saturn’s rings, which remain to me one of the solar system’s most amazing wonders.



  • C Cecil

    Nature’s display of orbital mechanics, weight and speed separating the ring materials. Looks like grooves in a vinyl record. Can you imagine if played, what a grand story it would tell. I wonder what force keeps the rings inclination flat?

  • wodun

    So how would people feel about mining the rings of Saturn or capturing the ejecta from its moon’s geysers?

  • Gealon

    I would think when we get there, the rings themselves would be considered in the same line as nature preserves. If we start flying craft in and out and removing great quantities of material, it will inevitably disrupt the ring system. Mining the moons though I would see no problem with, but the rings are what make Saturn an icon among the planets and I can’t see them being used in that fashion.

  • wodun

    I am not sure how I feel about it Gealon but the reason I brought up the moons as well is that they create some of Saturn’s rings.

    Mining the moons for water while leaving the rings alone sounds like a good compromise but would people try and stop mining if it meant less, or no, new ring material?

    Also, mining some of the rings for water would be akin to a renewable resource because the rings would regenerate as the moons eject material.

    22nd century problems :)

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