The Outside Track

This quick animation was created from 6 raw images taken by Cassini on January 7. Focusing on Saturn’s rings from above, the little shepherd moon Daphnis can be seen emerging from the planet’s cast shadow. Traveling within the Keeler gap, 5-mile-wide Daphnis pushes the ring material in front of it into scalloped waves and kicks up the material behind as well, creating several-mile-high plumes that catch and reflect the sunlight.

Discovered in 2005, the effect of Daphnis’ gravity on the edges of the Keeler gap became much more visible during the August equinox event, when the low angle of the sun’s light intensified the shadows along the rings.

Raw image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Animation: J. Major