Feeds

Astronomers ID Saturn's newest ring

Stunning snaps, Cassini style

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Saturn has another, very diffuse, outer ring identified by astronomers working on the Cassini imaging data at NASA's JPL laboratory and the Space Science Institute in Boulder.

The ring showed up in a photograph taken on 17 September, in what scientists are calling a "one of a kind" observation.

Cassini's cameras can't look towards the sun, except during so-called occulations, when the planet passes between the sun and the spacecraft. These occultations generally only last for around an hour, leaving little time for observation work. But on 17 September, Cassini found itself flying in Saturn's shadow for 12 hours.

Newly discovered ring around Saturn

Backlit, saturn's rings look entirely different. In the same way that a car windscreen suddenly looks very dusty when one is driving towards the sun, new features of the rings show up in the diffracted sunlight.

The newly identified ring is very diffuse and shares its orbit with the moons Janus and Epimetheus, just inside the E and G rings. Scientists say they were surprised to discover such a well defined ring in this region, although they had expected meteoric collisions with the two moons might throw dust into the main planet's orbit.

The occultation also gave the team time to study the E ring in more detail. The images sent back show the moon Enceladus moving through the ring, leaving wispy projections in its wake. The research team suspects these are left by tiny ice particles that erupt from the geysers at the moon's south pole as they enter the E ring.

The occlusion also allowed researchers to point the cameras back at Earth. The image they recorded is the first colour picture of Earth taken from the outer solar system since the Voyager 1 mission.

"Nothing has greater power to alter our perspective of ourselves and our place in the cosmos than these images of Earth we collect from faraway places like Saturn," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder.

"In the end, the ever-widening view of our own little planet against the immensity of space is perhaps the greatest legacy of all our interplanetary travels."

You can check out more of the images here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.