During the last “ring” passage, NASA's mission made some close observations, capturing small details in the gas giant's rings. But the best is waiting to come.
We have already got used to admiring the beautiful rings of Saturn from afar, when they majestically round the equator of the gas giant. But since Cassini arrived on the planet in 2004, we were not able to make a smaller scale review.
Now, however, the new series of photographs proposes to consider the delicate detail of Saturn's rings, namely, the extremely thin slits in the ice fragments and the pressure of the waves caused by the motion of the satellites of the planet. These images were taken on December 18th from a distance of 34,000 miles.
In the new pictures there are a lot of images, bright bands and debris. But many of them are not at all real. In fact, this is the noise created by the impact of cosmic rays (high energy particles) on the camera sensor. Noise was not specifically removed from the image in order not to accidentally erase any real features that resemble noise, but they are not.
“This approximation has opened up a completely new look at the rings of Saturn. And over the next few months, we expect even more surprising data from pictures of rings located closer to the planet, ”said mission scientist Matthew Tiskareno from the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
A close passage shows rings with unprecedented detail. Cassini managed to make a frame with detail twice as high as ever before.
Cassini is rapidly approaching the end of a 13-year mission (tentatively in September), when a spacecraft will burn in the atmosphere of Saturn. But before that, he is getting closer and closer to the surface. Already in April, it will reach the orbital plane, and for the first time we will look so closely at the Saturnian system.
“As a person who immediately suggested fixing pictures of rings when approaching, I am delighted with the results obtained and the completion of the collection,” says Caroline Porco of the Space Science Institute (Boulder, Colorado). - “We will get the best view of the rings of Saturn”.
Scientists hope to catch at least a hint of features known as the straw and the propeller. The propeller (not immediately noticeable in recent observations) is a violation of the ring materials, creating features that rise many kilometers above or below the plane of the ring. And the straw is the sticking of material seen on the outer edge of the rings.
But, as the device descends into orbit lower and lower, soon we will get even more ideas about known phenomena, and perhaps we will see what we did not expect at all.