The F ring shows off a rich variety of phenomena in this image from the Cassini spacecraft. Near the lower-right of the F ring are two "fans" of material radiating out of the main strand (or "core") of the ring. Kinks are apparent all along the core, and dark "channels" cut into the main strand can be seen in places, the result of a recent interaction with the shepherd moon Prometheus (which cannot be seen in this image).
Scientists believe that many of the F ring's diverse features are the result of interactions between ring material and either the shepherd moons or clumps of material within the ring.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about six degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 25, 2012.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 680,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 17 degrees. Image scale is 4 miles (6 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.