January 13, 2005
Voyager 2 obtained this high-resolution picture of Saturn's rings from a distance of 4 million kilometers (2.5 million miles). Evident here are the "spoke" features in the B ring. Their gray cloud-like appearance across many ringlets suggests short formation times. Spokes of this nature were observed to persist at times for two or three rotations of the ring about the planet. Freshly formed spokes seemed to revolve around the planet at the same rate as the rotation of the magnetic field and the interior of Saturn, independent of their distance from the center of Saturn. It is therefore suspected that the tiny dust grains that form the spokes are electrically charged. Older spokes, which presumably have lost their electrical charge, revolve with the underlying, larger ring particles.
Topics: Rings of Saturn, Saturn, Planetary science, Voyager, Voyager 2, Planetary ring, Planet, Environment