CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Tight Spiral

This high-resolution view shows, at left, a spiral density wave in Saturn's inner B ring.

A spiral density wave is a spiral-shaped massing of particles that tightly winds many times around the planet. These waves decrease in wavelength with increasing distance from the planet.

Scientists use images like this one to understand the mass of the rings and the collisional vigor of the ring particles.

The view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 50 degrees below the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 10, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 279,000 kilometers (173,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: June 20, 2008 (PIA 10408)
Image/Caption Information
  Tight Spiral
PIA 10408

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