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This montage of four images of Saturn's knotted F ring show different locations around the ring, but were all taken within a few hours of each other. There is considerable variation in the structure of the ring at these four locations.
For example, the number of ring strands differs from image to image. And in some images, kinks are clearly visible in the ring, while others regions appear more smooth.
Astronomers believe that the structure of the F ring is governed by its shepherding moons, Prometheus (86 kilometers, 53 miles across) and Pandora (81 kilometers, 50 miles across). The ring's appearance is expected to vary depending on how recently a section of ring has encountered each moon and how close the moon came to the ring.
These images were taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on May 3 and 4, 2005, from below the ringplane and at distances ranging from 735,000 to 952,000 kilometers (457,000 to 592,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale ranges from 4 to 6 kilometers (2 to 4 miles) per pixel.
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.