This false-color view of the rings of Uranus was made from images taken by Voyager 2 on Jan. 21, 1986, from a distance of 4.17 million kilometers (2.59 million miles). All nine known rings are visible here; the somewhat fainter, pastel lines seen between them are contributed by the computer enhancement. Six 15-second narrow-angle images were used to extract color information from the extremely dark and faint rings. Two images each in the green, clear and violet filters were added together and averaged to find the proper color differences between the rings. The final image was made from these three color averages and represents an enhanced, false-color view. The image shows that the brightest, or epsilon, ring at top is neutral in color, with the fainter eight other rings showing color differences between them. Moving down, toward Uranus, we see the delta, gamma and eta rings in shades of blue and green; the beta and alpha rings in somewhat lighter tones; and then a final set of three, known simply as the 4, 5 and 6 rings, in faint off-white tones. Scientists will use this color information to try to understand the nature and origin of the ring material. The resolution of this image is approximately 40 km (25 mi).
Published: January 29, 1996