Saturn’s rainbow rings
Saturn’s rainbow rings

Is it art? Saturn's rings seen in ultraviolet

Like a piece of modern abstract art, this is one of the best views ever of Saturn's rings, as seen in ultraviolet light by the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.

This colour-enhanced image was taken by the Cassini orbiter's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), during the spacecraft's Saturn Orbit lnsertion on 30 June 2004.

The UVIS instrument was built by University of Colorado at Boulder and is capable of resolving the rings to show features up to 80 kilometres across, roughly 10 times the resolution obtained by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1980.

This image shows the outer C and inner B rings respectively from left to right, with the inner B ring beginning about halfway across the image.

It shows definite compositional variation in the rings and indicates that there is more ice toward the outer part of the rings. The general pattern is from 'dirty' red particles to the denser ice shown in turquoise as the ringlets spread outward.

Last update: 5 May 2014

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