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Multimedia: Propeller-Shaped Structures in Saturn's Rings

Multimedia: Propeller-Shaped Structures in Saturn's Rings

Jul. 08, 2010


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Saturn Propellers Reflect Solar System Origins -- Resources

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Scientists using NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn have stalked a new class of moons in the rings of Saturn that create distinctive propeller-shaped gaps in ring material. It marks the first time scientists have been able to track the orbits of individual objects in a debris disk. The research gives scientists an opportunity to time-travel back into the history of our solar system to reveal clues about disks around other stars in our universe that are too far away to observe directly.

     
A propeller-shaped structure created by an unseen moon is brightly illuminated on the sunlit side of Saturn's rings in this image obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
  Sunlit Propeller


A propeller-shaped structure created by an unseen moon is brightly illuminated on the sunlit side of Saturn's rings in this image obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI


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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured a propeller-shaped disturbance in one of Saturn's rings created by a moon that is too small to be seen here.
  Tracking a Propeller

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured a propeller-shaped disturbance in one of Saturn's rings created by a moon that is too small to be seen here. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

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A propeller-shaped structure created by an unseen moon appears dark in this image obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft of the unilluminated side of Saturn's rings.
  Propeller from Unlit Side

A propeller-shaped structure created by an unseen moon appears dark in this image obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft of the unilluminated side of Saturn's rings. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI


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An unusually large propeller feature is detected just beyond the Encke Gap in this Cassini image of Saturn's outer A ring taken a couple days after the planet's August 2009 equinox.
  Giant Propeller in A Rings


An unusually large propeller feature is detected just beyond the Encke Gap in this Cassini image of Saturn's outer A ring taken a couple days after the planet's August 2009 equinox. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


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This movie created from images obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows a propeller-shaped structure created by a hidden, embedded moon moving through one of Saturn's rings.
  Propeller Churns the A Ring

This movie created from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a propeller-shaped structure created by a hidden, embedded moon moving through one of Saturn's rings. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI


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