Saturnís rings of ice

Saturnís rings of ice

Fig. 10.9 . The narrow angle camera aboard the Cassini spacecraft took this image from beneath Saturnís ring plane on 21 June 2004. The brightest part of the ring system, extending from the upper right to the lower left, is the central B ring. It is separated from the outermost A ring by the wide, dark Cassini Division, discovered in 1675 by the Italian-born French astronomer Giovanni (Gian) Domenico (Jean Dominique) Cassini (1625-1712). Below the B ring, closer to the planet, is the C ring. All three rings are composed of innumerable particles of water ice. The different shades of the rings are attributed to different amounts of contamination by other materials such as rock or carbon compounds. When viewed close up, the broad icy rings break up into thousands of individual wave-like ringlets. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL/SSI.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University