Cross-section of rings and satellites

Cross-section of rings and satellites

. All of Saturnís main rings lie inside the Roche limit (dashed curve) within which the planetís gravity will tear a large satellite apart. The A and B rings have been observed for centuries. The more tenuous C ring was discovered in the 19th century, and definite observations of the transparent D ring awaited the arrival of the Voyager 1 spacecraft on 12 November 1980. The icy satellite Enceladus probably feeds the tenuous E ring, also revealed from Voyager. For clarity, the thickness of the rings has been exaggerated.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University