Thursday, May 03, 2012

VIDEO | NASA's Cassini Orbiter Has Spotted Strange Objects Punching Holes in Saturn's Outermost Ring

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Saturn's F Ring


     New images from the Cassini spacecraft reveal rogue kilometre-sized objects punching through Saturn's F-ring as the source of 'mini-jets' seen emanating from the ring.

Saturn's narrow F-ring is already known to host a variety of dynamic features including channels, ripples and 'snowballs' that are created by the gravitational influence of nearby moon Prometheus. While some snowballs are likely broken up by collisions and tidal forces, the new images reveal five hundred separate cases where small surviving fragments punch through the F-ring, dragging icy ring particles with them.

The objects collide with the ring at low speeds of around two metres per second, resulting in 'mini-jets' that extend between 40 and 180 kilometres from the ring. In some cases the snowball impacts occur in groups, creating exotic patterns as they drag through the ring. . . .



  1. The narrator refers to the 'havoc' created by the 'snowballs' but the results look if anything almost balletically organised and coordinated which's really rather strange because if this sort of things been going on in the rings for millions (never mind hundreds of millions or even billions) of years then surely chaos should've ensued long ago.

    If as's been suggested Saturn's rings're an analogue for the early dust ring from which the planets emerged then the whole process must've been a far more elegant affair than the violent slam dance it's usually modelled as.

  2. 10 months transit time, and those objects might be punching thisaway...let's hope either a)Earth can dodge or b)our nukes are good enough to stop a rock or 10,000.


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