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A stunning new image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the closest view yet of Saturn’s ‘wavemaker’ mini-moon Daphnis as it creates ripples along inside one of the planet's rings.
The 5-mile-wide moon orbits within a 26 mile wide gap known as the Keeler Gap, and its gravity causes the edges to 'wave' in both the horizontal and vertical directions.
Image - Cassini - Tendril - Material - Daphnis
In the image, Cassini has also captured a barely-visible tendril of ring material that’s thought to have been drawn out by Daphnis before dispersing.
According to NASA, the image was taken as Cassini passed over the outer edges of Saturn’s rings on January 16, 2017.
Ridge - Daphnis - Equator - Smooth - Mantle
A ridge seen around Daphnis’ equator, along with a ‘fairly smooth’ mantle of material on the surface.
This is thought to be an accumulation of fine particles from the rings.
Appearance - Wave - Peak - Result - Particles
The softened appearance of the wave peak is likely the result of ring particles’ movement as they spread out into the gap after the moon’s last close approach, NASA explains.
Cassini captured the image in visible (green) light using its narrow-angle camera, at roughly 17,000 miles 28,000 kilometers from Daphnis.
Image - Scale - Feet - Pixel
The image scale is 551 feet per pixel.
Just last month, the Cassini spacecraft revealed Saturn’s north pole in a whole new light.
Region - Sunlight
With the entire northern region bathed in sunlight,...
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