The A and B Rings

The A and B Rings

Full-Res GIF (209 kB)

Caption:

This enhanced color image shows the outer half of Saturn’s main ring system. The dark Cassini Division near the middle divides the outer A Ring from the B Ring. The Cassini Division was once thought to be empty, but this view shows that it contains several fainter ring structures. The most prominent structure in the A Ring is the Encke Gap, about 1/3 way from the ring’s outer edge. This gap is “shepherded”. open by the tiny embedded moon Pan. The B Ring is more densely packed with material than the A Ring (i.e., higher in optical depth) so it shows up as brighter in this image at a low phase angle. Several faint “spokes” are visible as dark streaks across the B Ring. Much better images of the B Ring’s spokes were acquired by Voyager 2 about nine months later. At lower right, you can see the outer tip of the much fainter C Ring.