Multiple faint, streamer-like objects can be seen in this high resolution Cassini spacecraft view of the F ring's bright core.
The regular spacing of some of the features extending from the core indicates that they could all be produced by the perturbing effect of a single body as it passes close by. Scientists are examining Cassini images closely in an attempt to determine whether there are tiny moonlets -- or perhaps transient clumps of material -- orbiting Saturn near the F ring core. The researchers believe the streamer features seen here could be caused by a related phenomenon to that by which Prometheus produces streamers in the F ring (see Passing Lane).
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 25, 2006 at a distance of approximately 339,000 kilometers (211,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 2 kilometers (1 mile) 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.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute