Shaping Dione

Dione_TectonicsThis image of Saturn’s moon Dione shows a mixture of features: bright, linear features showing evidence of tectonic movant and impact craters. The tectonic features reveal that Dione has been heated and cooled since its formation, and scientists use those as clues to piece together the moon’s past. The impact craters are evidence of external debris striking the surface and tell about the environment in which the moon has existed over its history.

Image Credit: NASA

Broken Rings?

broken ringsThat’s not a gap in Saturn’s rings. It’s the planet’s shadow. During most of Saturn’s year, the planet’s shadow extends well beyond the edge of the rings.  However, with summer solstice fast approaching, the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky and most of Saturn’s A ring is completely shadow-free.

Saturn’s large moon Titan, its northern hemisphere in sunlight of late spring, hangs above the rings.

Image Credit: NASA

Crossed Rings?

Criss-cross RingsNope, but at first glance, Saturn’s rings seem to be intersecting themselves in an impossible way. This view from the Cassini spacecraft shows the rings in front of the planet and the shadows of the rings on the planets clouds. Because rings like the A ring and Cassini Division are not entirely opaque, those shadows can be seen through the rings themselves. If you look closely, you can spot the moon Pan near image’s center. Pan orbits in a space call the Encke Gap and keeps that band essentially clear.

Image Credit: NASA