Cassini gets a closer look at Saturn’s rings.
It’s difficult to get a sense of scale when viewing Saturn’s rings, but the Cassini Division (seen here between the bright B ring and dimmer A ring) is almost as wide as the planet Mercury.
The 2,980-mile-wide (4,800-kilometer-wide) division in Saturn’s rings is thought to be caused by the moon Mimas. Particles within the division orbit Saturn almost exactly twice for every time that Mimas orbits, leading to a build-up of gravitational nudges from the moon. These repeated gravitational interactions sculpt the outer edge of the B ring and keep its particles from drifting into the Cassini Division.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 4 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on January 28, 2016.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 740,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 76 degrees. Image scale is 4 miles (7 kilometers) per pixel.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute