CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

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From afar, Saturn's rings look like a solid, homogenous disk of material. But closer examination by Cassini shows that there are varied structures in the rings at almost every scale imaginable.

Structures in the rings can be caused by many things, but often times Saturn's many moons are the culprits. The dark gaps near the left edge of the A ring (the broad, outermost ring here) are caused by the moons (Pan and Daphnis) embedded in the gaps, while the wider Cassini division (dark area between the B ring and A ring here) is created by a resonance with the medium-sized moon Mimas (which orbits well outside the rings). Prometheus is seen orbiting just outside the A ring in the lower left quadrant of this image; the F ring can be faintly seen to the left of Prometheus.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 15 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 8, 2015.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 566,000 miles (911,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 37 degrees. Image scale is 34 miles (54 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: March 16, 2015 (PIA 18308)
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PIA 18308

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Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Mar 19, 2015 at 8:18 AM):
i wrote an entire novel just from wondering what the rings would look like from underneath. i never get tired of seeing the images of the rings. i wonder what they looked like a thousand million years ago. i wonder if they will still be there a thousand million years from now. either way, i'm glad i get to see them the way they are today.
Thanks again Cassini, and thanks again Ciclops team!

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