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Overnight Space Photo: The Glory of Saturn’s Rings

Spokes
Science • Views: 15,042

Among the interplay of Saturn’s shadow and rings, Mimas, which appears in the lower-right corner of the image, orbits Saturn as a set of the ever-intriguing spokes appear in the B ring (just to the right of center).

Scientists expect that spokes will soon cease to form as Saturn approaches northern equinox. The exact mechanism of spoke formation is still the subject of debate, but ring scientists do know that spokes no longer appear when the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky. It is believed that this has to do with the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming spokes. Thus, these may be some of the last spokes ever imaged by Cassini.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 146 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.

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 Frank says:

And all the rest of whom for which to whensoever of partially indeterminate bio-chemical degredation. Seek the path to the sudsy yellow nozzle of their foaming nocturnal parametric digital whole-wheat inter-faith geo-thermal terpsichorean ejectamenta. -- From board tape at Zappa concert, outdoors, at Blossom Music Center, Akron, Ohio, summer 1984. This quote was in the middle of a spoken section of "The Mud Club" in which a dude walks into the club with a blue Mohawk and proceeds to "work the floor, work the wall, work the monitor system. . . ." The band was having monitor feedback problems at the Blossom concert, and there are numerous references to P.A. equipment throughout this ramble. Other than that, the quote is meaningless, I guess. But great imagery!