Waving goodbye: Cassini sends stunning image of ripples in Saturn's A ring from 'Grand Finale' orbits

Mail Online | 9/15/2017 | Cheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com
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A stunning new close-up view of Saturn’s Keeler Gap reveals the rippling waves along the edge of the main rings, caused by the mini-moon Daphnis.

The phenomenon is the result of Daphnis’ gravitational pull, which disrupts the tiny particles in the A ring, according to NASA.

Though - Miles - Kilometers - Moon - Influence

Though just 5 miles wide (8 kilometers), the moon’s influence is powerful enough to create these waves in both the horizontal and vertical plane as it moves through the Keeler Gap, creating breathtaking patterns of waves.

Cassini captured the image before it began its Grand Finale orbits, according to the space agency.

View - Miles - Kilometers - Daphnis - January

The view, obtained from 18,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) from Daphnis on January 16, shows the sunlit side of the rings.

‘Daphnis creates waves in the edges of the gap through its gravitational influence,’ NASA explains.

Month - NASA - Cassini - Spacecraft - Look

Earlier this month, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent back the most detailed look yet at a sprinkling of ‘propeller belts’ in Saturn’s A ring.

The features can be seen as bright specks surrounding the stunning wave pattern in the middle part of the ring.

Craft - Propellers - Saturn - Resolution - Images

The craft previously observed propellers when it arrived at Saturn in 2004, but the low resolution of the images made them difficult to interpret.

Now, for the first time, Cassini has spotted propellers of all different sizes, revealing an unprecedented look at these features, which will help to unravel the mysteries of ‘propeller moons.’

Image - April - Spacecraft - Camera - Belts

The image was captured on April 19th with the spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera, showing belts of propellers in stunning new detail.

With this information, the researchers will be able to derive a ‘particle size distribution’ for propeller moons, or the small moons of mysterious origin thought to exist within Saturn’s rings.

View - Point - Miles - Kilometers - Saturn

This particular view shows a point roughly 80,000 miles (129,000 kilometers) from Saturn’s center.

The new observation will help to put the earlier images, taken at the time of Cassini’s...
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