A-Ring Structures

Saturn's A ring and the Encke Gap
September 23, 2010
PIA NumberPIA12727
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Several structures in Saturn's A ring are exposed near the Encke Gap in this Cassini image.

Structure is clearly visible in the ringlets that occupy the Encke Gap in the lower right of this image. A peculiar kink can be seen in one particularly bright ringlet at the bottom right. To view vertical structures in these kinky, discontinuous ringlets casting shadows during Saturn's August 2009 equinox, see Shadows and More Shadows.

Nearly uniform striations in the A ring created by the gravitational effects of the moon Pan dominate the left of this image. Saturn is out of the frame to the right. Also visible are two waves -- darker banded stuctures -- to the left of the Encke gap. See Two Kinds of Wave to learn more about the waves present here.

This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 18 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 177,000 kilometers (110,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 60 degrees. Image scale is 700 meters (2,296 feet) 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 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute