Regarding a Ring


A Dynamic Ring
A Dynamic Ring

Made from 127 raw images received from the Cassini spacecraft on April 17th, this sequence shows the varied structure of the F ring as it is influenced by passing moons, clumps of material and its own twisted composition.

Initially calm, with only background stars marking the passage of time, a passing moon outside the ring casts a thin shadow over it as it travels by. Then the shepherd moon Prometheus cruises along the opposite side, churning up a wake of streaming ring material behind it. This disturbance takes some time to reorganize itself. Then a small thorny nub of material within the ring passes by, followed by a slightly larger globule on the opposite side, seemingly separated from the central channel of the ring, and this is in turn followed by a swollen, hazy section of the F ring in its wake. Eventually this smooths over as well, and the ring splits into several glowing cords just before the final frame.

The Cassini site describes the F ring as containing “kinky ringlets with wandering moons and transient clumps.” An oddity amongst the more orderly and serene discs of the other ring structures, Saturn’s F ring is always a fascinating subject for Cassini’s camera…and even moreso when given movement.

Raw images: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. GIF file: J. Major.


  1. Gordan says:

    Awesome work, Jay!

    Can’t wait to see what this looks like in calibrated imagery.


    1. J. Major says:

      Thanks Gordan. Too bad Cassini didn’t have its own video camera. Then stuff like this wouldn’t have to be spliced together from individual frames. Some very interesting structures in this ring though…it’s hard to tell what’s a gob of ring dust and what’s a solid object sometimes.


  2. Lauri says:

    Very very cool!


Comments are closed.