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Thread: Discussion: Cassini Sees Clumps in Saturn's Rings

  1. #1
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    SUMMARY: Still more than 100 days before it enters Saturn's orbit, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is delivering great data back to Earth. This week's images released from the spacecraft show clumps embedded within its narrow, outermost F ring. Two images were taken roughly two hours apart when the spacecraft was 62.9 million kilometres away. Clumps like this were seen when the Voyager spacecraft flew past Saturn, but scientists haven't had the chance to watch them for a long time - now they'll have years to keep an eye on them.

    What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

  2. #2
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    At this point Saturn and its rings are about half the size of a full moon in terms of subtended angle. It would be a pretty cool sight to see.

    I understand that the Cassini team is taking frequnet images of Saturn to create a movie of the motion of the clouds and rings. I'm looking forward to seeing that.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  3. #3
    John LaCour Guest
    With a 4 year primary mission in orbit, none of us can even imagine the amazing new discoveries awaiting us. The fact that the rings change over time in my opinion is a given. They exist inside the Roche radius (is that correct?) and therefore are doomed to sink into the atmosphere of Saturn, but as long as new materail is added, we should always have some spectacular rings to enjoy.

    For me, though, the most interesting discoveries will be the moons of Saturn. We will be able to get Gallileo quality images of some of the most diverse and fascinating objects in the solar system. I wouldn't be surprised if we discover liquids on the surface of Titan and maybe some more subsurface oceans on a few of the other icy satellites. I can't wait!

  4. #4
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    Could these clumps be an as yet undiscovered moon being tidally ripped apart?

  5. #5
    Larry Swinford Guest
    I seem to recall from a previous probe that there was a "braided" ring as if a trailing debris field from the trajectories of two comparatively small bodies slowly spinning about a common center of gravity. That's one thing I'm watching for. Another is that now we know more about comets and asteriods up close, I wonder if the rings have sources that more resemble comets and the moons (with certain large exceptions) from asteroids.

  6. #6
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    That is good news for the scientests now they can keep up with saturn's changes.

  7. #7
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