Eight months before his arrival in Saturn, the Cassini probe obtained this image of the planet of the rings, in more detail than that taken almost a year ago. The image has been made from several exhibitions obtained by the Cassini narrow-field camera on November 9, 2003.
Some details of the ring system are visible in the photo: structures in ring B, the central and brighter of the three are visible. The Cassini division - a central band of 4800 km that separates the outermost A ring from the brightest B - is clearly differentiable. Specifically, the outer edge of ring B remains stable due to a strong gravitational resonance with the moon Mimas, also visible in the image. With a thickness of only a few tens of meters or even less, the rings extend more than 274,000 km from one end to the other, about three quarters of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
The different shades of yellow, brown and red visible in the southern hemisphere of Saturn are much more delicate and faint than the colors of Jupiter. The coloration of both planets is caused by small particles mixed with white ammonia clouds. These clouds are thicker and deeper than those visible in Jupiter because the ammonia condenses to a deeper level in the coldest atmosphere of Saturn.
The composition of the colored particles is unclear, but it is believed that they include sulfur and nitrogen atoms as basic constituents at medium and low latitudes.
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