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Why Is There a Strange Bend on Saturn's Ring from NASA Image?

Jul 27, 2016 05:31 AM EDT
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What's more bizarre than Saturn's perfectly formed rings? Recent image of the planet's rings taken by the Cassini spacecraft fascinates scientists and the public as the rings appeared warped or bent. 

In the image, Saturn's A and F rings appeared to be warped, according to experts, it starts where the rings intersect with the planet's limb where the atmosphere acts like a big lens. The occurrence can be partly attributed to the light that is refracted or bent because of the cameras aboard Cassini.

"Saturn's atmosphere absorbs some of the light reflected by the rings as it passes through. But absorption is not the only thing that happens to that light. As it passes from space to the atmosphere and back out into space towards Cassini's cameras, its path is refracted, or bent," a NASA official said in a statement.

In short, the image of the bent Saturn rings is a simple optical illusion, according to a report. The result of this is an amazing image that shows the rings are bent or warped. The view looked towards the sunlit side of the rings and was taken by Cassini's narrow-angle camera on June 9 at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers).

NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) collaborate to execute the Cassini mission to explore the planet Saturn, its rings and moons. The Cassini mission is responsible for studies involving the Saturn's moon Titan, which reports say might have the right chemistry for life.

According to NASA, Cassini is scheduled to begin its Grand Finale orbits, diving between Saturn and its rings before plunging into the planet's atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017. But not after proving the Earth tons of useful information and fascinating images like the bent rings of Saturn.

 

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