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Cassini Finds New Saturn Moon That Makes Waves

Friday, May 13, 2005

wave patter from the moon
Cassini's confirmation that a small moon orbits within the Keeler gap in Saturn's rings is made all the more exciting by this image, in which the disk of the 7 kilometer-wide body (4-miles) is resolved for the first time. The new body, provisionally named S/2005 S1, was first seen in a time-lapse sequence of images taken on May 1, 2005, as Cassini began its climb to higher elevations in orbit around Saturn.
Credit: NASA/JPL/
Space Science Institute

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In a spectacular kick-off to its first season of prime ring viewing, which began last month, the Cassini spacecraft has confirmed earlier suspicions of an unseen moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer A ring. A new image and movie show the new moon and the waves it raises in the surrounding ring material.

The moon, provisionally named S/2005 S1, was first seen in a time- lapse sequence of images taken on May 1, 2005, as Cassini began its climb to higher inclinations in orbit around Saturn. A day later, an even closer view was obtained, which has allowed a measure of the moon's size and brightness.

The images show the tiny object in the center of the Keeler gap and the wavy patterns in the gap edges that are generated by the moon's gravitational influence. The Keeler gap is located about 250 kilometers (155 miles) inside the outer edge of the A ring, which is also the outer edge of the bright main rings. The new object is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) across and reflects about half the light falling on it -- a brightness that is typical of the particles in the nearby rings.

See the Full JPL News Release - Cassini Finds New Saturn Moon That Makes Waves

Links to More Information about the Cassini Mission

JPL - Cassini Mission

NASA - Cassini Mission

USGS Astrogeology - Cassini Mission