Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Unexpected C ring corrugations

Unexpected C ring corrugations

Click to view full image

NASA / JPL / SSI

Unexpected C ring corrugations
The lighting geometry in this image is extreme. It was taken just hours before equinox, mostly of the C ring, one of the dimmest of Saturn's main rings. The B ring's inner boundary is on the right; the C ring's Maxwell gap (demarcated by two bright arcs, which are bright because they rise above the ring plane) is on the left. There is a periodic brightness variation in the image. The side lighting geometry means that brightness variations mostly result from changing slopes of the surface of the ring plane due to out-of-plane disturbances in the rings -- in layman's terms, the rings here are corrugated like a washboard. Previous images had revealed these corrugations in the D ring (located off the view to the left). This image reveals that the corrugation extends beyond their origin in the D ring (which begins not far above Saturn's cloud tops), right through the C ring, to the inner part of the B ring, the densest of Saturn's rings, covering a distance of 17,000 kilometers. This was a wholly unexpected observation.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Original image data dated on or about August 10, 2009

Explore related images: pretty pictures, Cassini, Saturn's rings

You are here:
Comments & Sharing
More Images
astronaut on Phobos
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.

Donate

"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

I'm In!