Two F Ring Views
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Two F Ring Views

November 17, 2009
These views, taken two hours apart, demonstrate the dramatic variability in the structure of Saturn's intriguing F ring.

In the image at the left, ringlets in the F ring and Encke Gap display distinctive kinks, and there is a bright patch of material on the F ring's inner edge. Saturn's moon Janus (181 kilometres) is shown here, partly illuminated by reflected light from the planet.

At the right, Prometheus (102 kilometres) orbits ahead of the radial striations in the F ring, called "drapes" by scientists. The drapes appear to be caused by successive passes of Prometheus as it reaches the greatest distance (apoapse) in its orbit of Saturn. Also in this image, the outermost ringlet visible in the Encke Gap displays distinctive bright patches.

These views were obtained from about three degrees below the ring plane.

The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 29 June 2005 when Cassini was about 1.5 million kilometres from Saturn. The image scale is about 9 kilometres per pixel.

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