CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Splitting the F Ring
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Splitting the F Ring
PIA 17148

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  Saturn's F ring often appears to do things other rings don't. In this Cassini image, a strand of ring appears to separate from the core of the ring as if pulled apart by mysterious forces.

Some ring scientists believe that this feature may be due to repeated collisions between the F ring and a single small object.

Eight stars are also visible in this image.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 49 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 19, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.2 million miles (1.9 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 120 degrees. Image scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: February 10, 2014 (PIA 17148)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
macrovar (Feb 25, 2014 at 7:24 PM):
This image in comparison to raises the question, to what extent is there uniformity of motion of the particles in the F ring? Is the separation a result of the motion by Prometheus or is the converse true instead where this image is actually depicting a magnetic force causing the periodic collisions.
NeKto (Feb 14, 2014 at 8:58 AM):
another wonderful image. anyone hiding in there? i was wondering what the orbital periods are for ring particles? there must be quite a wide range. with such a short rotation period, is there a place in the rings where the orbit is Saturn synchronous?