These two images, taken about eight minutes apart, show clump-like structures and a great deal of dust in Saturn's ever-changing F ring. The images show an object-interior to and detached from the bright core of the F ring--that appears to be breaking up into discrete clumps.
Cassini scientists have been monitoring clumps in the F ring for more than two years now, trying to understand whether these represent small permanent moonlets or transient aggregates of material. (See: PIA07716.)
This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 35 degrees above the ringplane.
The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 23, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 12 kilometers (7 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.