Sat­urn's E Ring

Sat­urn's E Ring
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Saturn's E Ring

Sat­urn's wide, dif­fuse E Ring main­ly con­sists of mi­cro­scop­ic sil­i­ca par­ti­cles and tiny ice gran­ules of wa­ter, car­bon diox­ide and am­mo­nia that are around one thou­sandth of a mil­lime­tre in size. These par­ti­cles are small­er than red blood cells, but they can be ef­fort­less­ly tracked down by the Cos­mic Dust An­a­lyz­er on the Cassi­ni probe. The E Ring is the sec­ond out­er­most of Sat­urn's rings, stretch­ing out be­tween the or­bits of Mi­mas and Ti­tan to a dis­tance of al­most one mil­lion kilo­me­tres from the cen­tre of Sat­urn. Un­like the wafer-thin main rings A to G, the E Ring, with its thick­ness of 2000 kilo­me­tres, re­sem­bles more of a torus. The bright point in the im­age is Ence­ladus, the cry­o­vol­ca­noes of which sup­ply the E Ring with small ice par­ti­cles.

Saturn's wide, diffuse E Ring mainly consists of microscopic silica particles and tiny ice granules of water, carbon dioxide and ammonia that are around one thousandth of a millimetre in size. These particles are smaller than red blood cells, but they can be effortlessly tracked down by the Cosmic Dust Analyzer on the Cassini probe. The E Ring is the second outermost of Saturn's rings, stretching out between the orbits of Mimas and Titan to a distance of almost one million kilometres from the centre of Saturn. Unlike the wafer-thin main rings A to G, the E Ring, with its thickness of 2000 kilometres, resembles more of a torus. The bright point in the image is Enceladus, the cryovolcanoes of which supply the E Ring with small ice particles.

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