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A Visual Demonstration of Gravity, Courtesy of Cassini

Prometheus passes inside Saturn's F ring on Feb. 5 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI. Animation by J. Major)

Prometheus passes inside Saturn’s F ring on Feb. 5 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI. Animation by J. Major)

Prometheus is at it again! On Feb. 5, Cassini acquired a series of images with its narrow-angle camera of Saturn’s reflective and ropy F ring, around the inside of which travels the shepherd moon Prometheus. As it orbits Saturn it regularly arcs outwards toward the inner edge of the F ring and tumbles back inwards again, a scalloping orbit by a potato-shaped moon that yanks at the fine icy particles of the ring with its gravitational tug. However faint they might be, these tidal forces are enough to pull the wispy ring particles into long strands, gaps, and clumps that follow Prometheus’ passage before eventually settling back down again.

The animation above shows a brief segment of this neverending process in play. Click here to read more, and see more images of Prometheus here.

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on February 11, 2014, in Saturn, Saturn's Moons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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