CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Maxwell's Namesake
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Maxwell's Namesake
PIA 09857

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  Cassini examines the Maxwell Gap--the large, dark division at center--which is surrounded on either side by the broad, isolated and bright ring regions, or "plateaus," of Saturn's outer C ring.

See PIA08389 for a labeled Cassini map of the rings.

The gap is named for James Clerk Maxwell, the famous Scottish physicist who showed that Saturn's rings must consist of countless individual particles, rather than solid, concentric ringlets.

Prometheus (86 kilometers, 53 miles across) wanders past at the bottom of this scene, which looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 2 degrees below the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 29, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (697,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale at the center of the scene is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel in the radial, or outward from Saturn, direction.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: March 13, 2008 (PIA 09857)
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