Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ringside with Rhea
Posted on 03/28/2013 9:19:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Explanation: Orbiting in the plane of Saturn's rings, Saturnian moons have a perpetual ringside view of the gas giant planet. Of course, while passing near the ring plane the Cassini spacecraft also shares their stunning perspective. The thin rings themselves slice across the middle of this Cassini snapshot from April 2011. The scene looks toward the dark night side of Saturn, in the frame at the left, and the still sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Centered, over 1,500 kilometers across, Rhea is Saturn's second largest moon and is closest to the spacecraft, around 2.2 million kilometers away. To Rhea's right, shiny, 500 kilometer diameter Enceladus is about 3 million kilometers distant. Dione, 1,100 miles wide, is 3.1 million miles from Cassini's camera on the left, partly blocked by Saturn's night side.
(Excerpt) Read more at 22.214.171.124 ...
PASADENA, Calif., March 27 (UPI) — NASA says observation of Saturn’s rings and moon suggests they are gently worn “vintage” goods from around the time of our solar system’s birth.
A new analysis of data from the orbiting Cassini spacecraft suggests that although the rings and the surfaces of the moons are colored by more recent “pollution” from dust and cosmic impacts, these bodies date back more than 4 billion years.
The coloring is generally only skin-deep, and a closer examination of the rings and moons shows their true origin was around the time the planetary bodies in our solar system began to form out of the protoplanetary nebula, the cloud of material still orbiting the sun after its ignition as a star, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Tuesday.
“Studying the Saturnian system helps us understand the chemical and physical evolution of our entire solar system,” Gianrico Filacchione, a Cassini participating scientist at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics said, “We know now that understanding this evolution requires not just studying a single moon or ring, but piecing together the relationships intertwining these bodies.”
That is a magnificent picture.
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