Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed

Date:
December 9, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Stealing is a crime on Earth, but at Saturn, apparently it is routine. The Cassini spacecraft has witnessed Saturn's moon Prometheus snatching particles from one of Saturn's rings.

The shepherd moon Prometheus working its influence on the multi-stranded and kinked F ring.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Stealing is a crime on Earth, but at Saturn, apparently it is routine. The Cassini spacecraft has witnessed Saturn's moon Prometheus snatching particles from one of Saturn's rings.

Related Articles


This potato-shaped moon is also believed to be responsible for kinks within Saturn's thin F ring, a contorted, narrow ring flanked by two small moons, Prometheus and Pandora. The thievery and the detailed behavior of kinks were observed for the first time ever in images taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

In an image taken on Oct. 29, Prometheus is seen stealing particles from the F ring while connected to the ringlets by a faint streak of material. A movie sequence of the ring, taken on Oct. 28, captures in freeze-frame motion the zigzagging kinks and knots, some of which are almost certainly caused by Prometheus.

The new still and movie are available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov , http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://ciclops.org .

The kinks look like "hiccups" traveling around the ring. Consisting of 44 frames taken three minutes apart, the sequence represents almost two hours, or about one-eighth of the orbital period of F ring particles around the planet.

Cassini was on a flight path that took the spacecraft away from the planet and farther south, so that the rings appear to tilt upward. The top portion of the F ring is closer to the spacecraft, while the bottom portion is farther away and curves around the far side of Saturn.

Scientists are not sure exactly how Prometheus is interacting with the F ring here, but they have speculated that the moon might be gravitationally pulling material away from the ring. Scientists speculate that the ring particles may end up in a slightly different orbit from the one they were in prior to getting a 'kick' from the moon. These kicks occur at specific locations in the rings and can actually cause large waves or knots to form. In the still image, gaps in the diffuse inner strands are seen. All these features appear to be due to the influence of Prometheus in ways that are not fully understood.

Saturn's moon Prometheus is following in the footsteps of the legendary Titan for which it is named. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to the mortals.

Scientists will use what they learn about Prometheus' interaction with the F ring to understand the gravitational exchanges between moons and rings, which give rise to so much of the structure that is observed in Saturn's rings.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041208095231.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, December 9). Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041208095231.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Captures Saturn Moon Red-Handed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041208095231.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

AP (Mar. 2, 2015) — SpaceX launched it&apos;s 16th Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday night. The rocket was carrying two commercial communications satellites. (March 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA (Mar. 2, 2015) — Join NASA EDGE as they cover the launch of the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft live from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Special guests include NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, SMAP Project System Engineer Shawn Goodman and Lt Col Brande Walton and Joseph Sims from the Air Force.  No word on the Co-Host&apos;s whereabouts. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) — NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins