Saturn's realm


Fig. 10.1 . The magnificent rings of Saturn encircle the planet, never touching its cloud tops. From the outside in there are the bright A and B rings separated by the Cassini Division. The narrow Encke Gap in the outer A ring is also visible, as is the dark C ring nearest to the planet. The yellow-brown atmosphere of Saturn, shown here in enhanced color, has a banded structure, but it lacks Jupiter's bright zones and belts. Three icy satellites (Tethys, Dione and Rhea) are visible as small white spots against the darkness of space (bottom left), and another smaller satellite (Mimas) is visible just above them on Saturnís bright edge or limb. Small black round shadows cast by Mimas and Tethys are visible on Saturnís disk, and the planet blocks light from getting to the rings at the right just outside the planet. Because of its rapid spin, Saturn has an oblong, egg-like shape, flattened at the poles and extended at the equator. This Voyager 2 image was acquired on 4 August 1981. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University