A Visual Demonstration of Gravity, Courtesy of Cassini

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…

A Fan of Shadows

Cassini captured this visible-light image on October 16, 2010, showing a thick clump of icy material in Saturn’s bright F ring casting a “fan” of thin shadows. Clumps like this have been seen many times before and may be caused by the gravitational effects of passing shepherd moons like Prometheus or as-of-yet undiscovered moonlets within the ropy…

Meet the Clumps

87,000 miles from the cloudtops of Saturn’s equator writhes the hazy cords of the F ring, a braided belt of icy dust that shifts and twists around and over itself. Clumps of material gather together and separate, and make the thin ring vary in thickness anywhere from under 20 miles to over 300 miles wide….

Shepherds Fly

  Two of Saturn’s smaller moons pass by Cassini’s wide-angle camera in this animation sequence, made from 60 raw images taken on May 26, 2009. Prometheus enters first, stage right, deforming the ringlets of the F ring with its gravity, and is followed shortly after by Atlas, taking the inside track around the edge of…

Regarding a 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…