The Rings of Saturn are in the News

NEWS RELEASE: 2009-142                                                                       Sept. 21, 2009

Cassini Reveals New Ring Quirks, Shadows During Saturn Equinox

The chunks of ice that make up the main rings spread out 140,000 kilometers (85,000 miles) from the center of Saturn, but they had been thought to be only around 10 meters (30 feet) thick in the main rings, known as A, B, C, and D.

In the new images, particles seemed to pile up in vertical formations in each of the rings. Rippling corrugations — previously seen by Cassini to extend approximately 804 kilometers (500 miles) in the innermost D ring — appear to undulate out to a total of 17,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) through the neighboring C ring to the B ring.

The heights of some of the newly discovered bumps are comparable to the elevations of the Rocky Mountains. One ridge of icy ring particles, whipped up by the gravitational pull of Saturn’s moon Daphnis as it travels through the plane of the rings, looms as high as about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). It is the tallest vertical wall seen within the rings.

“We thought the plane of the rings was no taller than two stories of a modern-day building and instead we’ve come across walls more than 2 miles [3 kilometers] high,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. “Isn’t that the most outrageous thing you could imagine? It truly is like something out of science fiction.”

 The above is excerpted from:http://us.mc565.mail.yahoo.com/mc/showMessage?sMid=0&&filterBy=&.rand=1124386489&midIndex=0&mid=1_268377_ACRhxEIAAU4YSrgHAAkEYAFT3Uk&f=1

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