CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Pushing and Pulling

Pushing and Pulling
PIA 12688

Avg Rating: 9.50/10

Full Size 1020x1020:
PNG 640 KB
  Rather than being an unchanging disk of peaceful particles, the material that makes up Saturn's rings is constantly pushed and pulled into spectacular shapes.

On the left of the image, the moon Daphnis (8 kilometers, 5 miles across) affects material as it orbits in the A ring's Keeler Gap. The moon has an inclined orbit and its gravitational pull perturbs the orbits of the particles of forming the Keeler Gap's edge and sculpts the edge into waves having both horizontal (radial) and out-of-plane components. Material on the inner edge of the gap orbits faster than the moon so that the waves there lead the moon in its orbit. Material on the outer edge moves slower than the moon, so waves there trail the moon. See PIA11656 to learn more about this process.

On the right, the material at the edge of the Encke Gap shows waves caused by Pan (28 kilometers, 17 miles across). See PIA09881 for a similar view.

This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 6 degrees below the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 3, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 531,000 kilometers (330,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 33 degrees. Image scale is 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: July 30, 2010 (PIA 12688)
Image/Caption Information