Equinox Reveals Corrugation in Saturn’s Rings

saturnrings

For a few days after the 11 August equinox of Saturn, light rays struck their rings at very low angles, bringing their relief into light. This resulted in scientists being able to see much greater detail in the topography of the rings.

For scientists studying the rings, the event happening once every 15 years provided an unprecedentedly dimensional view of the rings.

They were thought to be about 30 feet thick — and they are, generally speaking — but the Cassini spacecraft has revealed regions that are nearly two miles high.

“Like the seas of Earth, this wide icy expanse has settled into a mathematically precise cast that, here and there, froths and churns, not by wind but by the convulsive forces of Saturnian moons,” Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, wrote in her Captain’s Log. “This famous adornment, impressed deep in the human mind for four centuries as a pure, two-dimensional form, has now, as if by trickery, sprung into the third dimension.”

Saturn Equinox Reveals Mountains in Rings [Wired Science]

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