[For trouble viewing the images/movies on this page, go here]
This sweeping view of Saturn's rings offers a look at how the planet's moons help shape and maintain this structure, making Saturn the jewel of the Solar System.
Some of the bright lanes seen here within the main rings are due to resonances with moons like Mimas and Atlas, whose gravity nudges the orbits of the ring particles. These resonances can also cause dark gaps in the rings, like the Cassini Division.
Clumps are visible in both the thin, outer F ring and the ringlets within the Encke Gap; the latter is maintained by the presence of tiny Pan (28 kilometers, 17 miles across at left of center). The clumps result from gravitational interactions of ring particles with the small moons that orbit nearby. The structurally complex F ring is maintained by the presence of Prometheus and Pandora (not pictured, see PIA06595).
Pan also creates dark wakes, which can faintly be seen here immediately interior to the inner edge of the Encke Gap.
The view is from beneath Saturn's ringplane, looking upward. The faintly visible object just below the A ring ansa is a background star.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on May 24, 2005, from a distance of approximately 1.7 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 10 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel. Contrast was enhanced to improve the visibility of faint objects in the scene.
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.