Skip to comments.Strange Objects seen Blazing Trails in Saturnís Ring
Posted on 04/26/2012 11:53:20 AM PDT by null and void
This set of six images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows trails that were dragged out from Saturn's F ring by objects about a half mile (1 kilometer) in diameter. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/QMUL
Scientists working with images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have discovered strange, half-mile-sized objects punching through one of Saturn's rings and leaving glittering trails behind them. The results were presented at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria. The penetration occurred in the outermost of Saturn's main rings, called the F ring, which has a circumference of 550,000 miles (881,000 kilometers). Scientists are calling the trails "mini-jets." Cassini scientists combed through 20,000 images and found 500 examples of these rogues during the seven years Cassini has been at Saturn.
"Beyond just showing us the strange beauty of the F ring, Cassini's studies of this ring help us understand the activity that occurs when solar systems evolve out of dusty disks that are similar to, but obviously much grander than, the disk we see around Saturn," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.
Scientists have known relatively large objects can create channels, ripples and snowballs, or clumps of icy material, in the F ring. However, did not know what happened to these snowballs after they were created. Some were broken up by collisions or tidal forces in their orbit around Saturn. Scientists now have evidence some of the smaller ones survived, and their differing orbits mean they go on to strike through the F ring on their own.
"I think the F ring is Saturn's weirdest ring, and these latest Cassini results go to show how the F ring is even more dynamic than we ever thought," said Carl Murray, a Cassini imaging team member based at Queen Mary University of London, U.K. "These findings show us that the F ring region is like a bustling zoo of objects from a half-mile (0.8-kilometer) in size to moons like Prometheus a hundred miles (160.9 kilometers) in size, creating a spectacular show."
These small objects appear to collide with the F ring at gentle speeds of about 4 mph (2 meters per second). The collisions drag glittering ice particles out of the F ring with them, leaving a trail of 20 to 110 miles (40 to 180 kilometers) long.
In some cases, the objects traveled in packs, creating mini-jets that looked exotic, like the barb of a harpoon. Other new images show grand views of the entire F ring and the swirls and eddies from the different kinds of objects moving through and around it.
Saturn's rings are comprised primarily of water ice. The chunks of ice that make up the main rings spread out 85,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) from the center of Saturn. Scientists believe the rings' average thickness is approximately 30 feet (10 meters).
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO.
New images and movies of the mini-jets are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/cassini20120423.html
let me guess ,this guy combs his hair with a electric fan
“I think the F ring is Saturn’s weirdest ring,”
You haven’t seen stuff out of Uranus yet.
Oh great. Alien invasions ALWAYS start like this. I hate it.
Cheer up, they are apt to be better than Obama...
They’re just making a Pit Stop, on the 300th lap. Nothing to worry about.
Read the fantastic book “Footfall” by Niven and Pournelle.
Aliens stop by Saturn to refuel before dropping into the solar system, and leave their imprint in the rings.
Perfect use of that graphic. Absolutely perfect.
Zathras knows answer but Zathras not tell.
I’ll have to give it a try. I recenlty completed “Fallen Angels” by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn after reading Instapundit flog it for a long time. Wonderful send up of global warming and anti-science enviros.
[ Zathras knows answer but Zathras not tell. ]
Wouldn’t matter if Zathras tell, Nobody ever listen to poor Zathras!
I would have guessed explosives...
You need to read Footfall. Starts out with anomolies in Saturn's rings. This thread is deja vu all over again.
The motherships are on the move.
Just what I was thinking and yes I have read "Footfall" a few times.
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