A new image captured by a NASA spacecraft shows Saturn’s famous rings in gorgeous detail, with one of the planet’s many moons shining in the distance.
The space agency’s Cassini probe snapped the photo on Oct. 22, 2013, when it was about 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and 38 degrees below the ring plane, NASA officials said. The planet’s battered “Death Star” moon Mimas is visible as a pinprick of light at the bottom right.
The photo also depicts hazy, mysterious “spokes” in Saturn’s B ring, just to the right of center.
Prosecutors: Deputy who killed unarmed teen won’t face charges
AP: Prosecutors say they won’t file criminal charges against against a sheriff’s deputy who killed unarmed 13-year-old boy in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced that investigators concluded Deputy Erick Gelhaus fired his weapon at Andy Lopez in response to what he honestly and reasonably believed was an imminent threat of death.
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Among the interplay of Saturn’s shadow and rings, Mimas, which appears in the lower-right corner of the image, orbits Saturn as a set of the ever-intriguing spokes appear in the B ring (just to the right of center).
Scientists expect that spokes will soon cease to form as Saturn approaches northern equinox. The exact mechanism of spoke formation is still the subject of debate, but ring scientists do know that spokes no longer appear when the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky. It is believed that this has to do with the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming spokes. Thus, these may be some of the last spokes ever imaged by Cassini.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2013.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 146 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.