The propeller-shaped white dashes near the bottom of this Cassini spacecraft image reveal the location of a small moonlet embedded in Saturn's A ring. The gravity of this tiny moonlet affects the orbits of nearby ring particles and creates the propeller feature, nicknamed Bleriot by imaging scientists, that Cassini sees.
Researchers hope to understand more about the migration of planets during their formation by studying how the orbits of Bleriot and other propeller features observed by Cassini change over time. For more views of Bleriot, see Tracking a Propeller and Propeller Churns the A Ring.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 38 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 11, 2012.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 349,000 miles (561,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 41 degrees. Image scale is 2 miles (3 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 in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/cassini . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute