The fragile F ring bears the signs of a moon's bruising passage.
The A ring and its Keeler Gap sit idly by on the right of this image, but on the left dark lines cut across the F ring and mark where the moon Prometheus has gored the ring and gravitationally drawn streamer-channels of material from the ring (see Streamer Channel). To the left and right of the bright core, the F ring also displays the ghostly stands of its spiral arm (see The F Ring's Spiral Arm ) which winds around the planet like a compressed spring.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 11 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 2, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 33 degrees. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) 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.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute