In the past year, Cassini descended where there was no spacecraft in the space between Saturn and his rings. Again and again he dived for a total of 22 orbits. In the data gathered during these bulky dives, astronomers have just found new information about how small moons sculpt and shape these rings.
This is, they say, not only new evidence that Saturn's rings are much younger than the planet, but also a window of how the planets are formed in the giant rings of dust and debris that roam the newborn stars.
The data gathered using four of Cassini's instruments shows the rings more detailed than ever.
"It's like turning the power in one more step on what we can see in the rings." Everybody has a clearer look at what's going on, "said Linda Spielker of JPL-NASA." Getting this extra resolution "
They reveal the delicate straw textures and strands in the rings and patterns created by the movement of the shepherd's moons like Daphne, and scientists have also written new maps of colors, temperatures and chemistry the rings
In turn, this and For example, a series of strips generated by rings in the F ring ̵
This implies a flock of blows that are circling around Saturn and not a swarm of comet debris in orbit around the Sun.
The data also contains new information about Daphne, the magic of the shepherd's moon in its clear band, which we call the Killer's Gap, are already well documented, but the new images reveal thin strands of ring, separates and comb in lunar trace.
But not everything is enlightening, Cassini scientists have noticed something they still do not understand: three different textures – smooth, coarse and striated. appear in the rings in separate belts with sharp, well-defined edges
The problem is that so far the textures can not be associated with any characteristic of the rings identified so far. 9659002] "This tells us how the rings look, it's not just a function of how much material there is," said astronomer Matt Tisareno of the SETI Institute.
"There must be something different about the characteristics of the particles, which can affect what happens when two rings
" And we still do not know what it is. "
There was More Secrets in Ring Chemistry Revealed by Cassini and Infrared Spectrometer 19659003] At the outermost part of the A-ring, the spectral map reveals an abundance of weak water ice, which is a surprise because the region is highly reflective, which usually shows water ice with high purity or strong water ice, it's so reflective it's a puzzle 003] And the spectral analysis also did not detect methane or ammonia ice in the rings Since last year, scientists have discovered, among other organic substances, ammonia and methane that are raining on Saturn from its innermost ring
Because, although the probe's mission was completed nearly two years ago, there is still a lot of data about Cassini that has not yet been discovered
"We see much more and closer upwards, and we get new and more interesting puzzles , "We just find ourselves in the next phase, which builds new, detailed models and the evolution of the rings-including the new revelation from Cassini's data-that the rings are much younger than Saturn. "
19659003] Better hurry. For 100 million years these magnificent rings may disappear entirely
The study was published in Science .