While NASA dived near Saturn in its last year, the spacecraft provided sophisticated details about Saturn's complex rings, shows new analyzes.
Although the mission ended in 2017, science continues to flow from the data collected. A new document, published June 13 in Science, describes the results of four Cassini instruments that take their closest observations to the main rings.
Findings include fine details of features sculpted from tables embedded in the rings. Textures and patterns, from lump to straw, come out of the images, raising questions about the interactions that shape them. New maps reveal how colors, chemistry and temperature change in the rings.
Like a planet under construction inside a disk of protoplanetary matter, the small satellites embedded in the Saturn rings (called from A to D in the order of their discovery) interact with them. Thus, the article provides additional evidence that the rings are a window in the astrophysical disk processes that shape our solar system. Observations also deepen the scientists' understanding of Saturn's complex system. Scientists conclude that on the outer edge of the main rings a series of similar stripe-generated strips in the F ring have the same length and orientation, indicating that they are probably caused by a flock of strikes that all struck the ring at the same time. This indicates that the ring is formed by streams of material that goes around Saturn itself, and not, for example, from the commnute remnants (moving around the sun) that happen to be struck in the rings.
"These new details of how moons are the sculpture of rings in different ways provide a window in the formation of the solar system, where there are also disks that develop under the influence of masses built into them," said the lead author and scientist by Cassini Matt Tisaro from SETI Institute in Mountain View, California Continuing Mysteries
At the same time, new puzzles appeared and the old mysteries deepened with the latest research, with close-up photos focusing on three different textures ̵
"This tells us , that the type of rings is not only a function of how much material there is, "said Tiscorene." There must be something different about the characteristics of the particles, which can affect what happens when two ring particles collide and bounce each other. And we still do not know what it is. "
The analyzed data were collected during the Ringing Rings (from 2016 to April 2017) and the Grand Final (from April to September 2017) when Cassini Flying over Saturn's Clouds With fuel depleted, the mission team deliberately brought it into the atmosphere of the planet in September 2017.
The visible and infrared spectrometer of Cassini (VIMS) revealed another mystery: The spectrometer that depicts the rings in the visible and near infrared light, identifies unusually weak strip strips at the outermost part of ring A. This was a surprise, as it is known that the area is highly reflective, which is usually a sign of less polluted ice and thus of stronger water strips
The new spectral map also sheds light on the composition of the rings, and while scientists already knew that water ice was the main component, the spectral map turned off detectable ammonia ice and methane ice as ingredients. But they also do not see organic compounds – a surprise, given the organic material that Cassini discovered, leaking from ring D into the atmosphere of Saturn.
"If organic substances were there in large quantities – at least in the main A, B and C rings – we'll see them," says Phil Nicholson, a scientist at Cassini VIMS at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I am convinced that they are a major component of the main rings. "
The study signaled the beginning of Cassini's next era of science, says Jeff Katsiu, a NASA research center who studies Saturn's rings since the 1970s and is an interdisciplinary scientist
"We see much more and nearer, and I get "We just find ourselves in the next phase that builds new, detailed patterns of ring evolution – including the new revelation from Cassini's data that the rings are much younger than Saturn. "
The new observations give scientists an even more intimate sense of the rings than before, and each study reveals new complexities, says Cassini scientist Linda Spicker, based in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Everyone had a clearer picture of what was happening, Spicker said. "Getting this additional resolution answered many questions, but they remain so irritating."
Cassini-Huygens' mission is a joint project between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, runs the mission of the NASA Science Missions Directorate in Washington. JPL designs, designs and assembles Cassini's orbit. The radio antenna was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with members of the US team and several European countries.
More information about Cassini can be found here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/cassini