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Intriguing features resembling drapes and kinks are visible in this Cassini view of Saturn’s thin F ring. Several distinct ringlets are present, in addition to the bright, knotted core of the ring.
The obvious structure in the ring and its strands has been caused by Prometheus, the inner F ring shepherd moon that recently swept past this region. (Prometheus is about 10 degrees ahead of the F ring material in this image). These types of features were first seen in images taken just after Cassini entered into orbit around Saturn. The gravitational interaction of Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) on the ring pulls material out the ring once every orbit (every 14.7 hours) as the moon gets close to the ring and its strands.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 19, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to polarized visible light. Resolution in the original image was 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel. The image was contrast-enhanced and magnified by a factor of two to aid visibility.
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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute