Awesome images show ‘Moonlets’ colliding with Saturn’s rocky rings (PHOTOS)
A newly-released image of Saturn’s ‘moonlets’ from the European Space Agency has delighted astronomy enthusiasts.
In the extraordinary picture, the small satellites can be seen disturbing the rings encircling Saturn, our solar system’s second-largest planet at almost 100 times the size of Earth.
Saturn’s rings sit 7000 to 8000 km above the planet’s equator - roughly the distance from Los Angeles to Dublin, or Beijing to London. These rings are approximately 20 meters in thickness, consisting mostly of ice and rocks which range in size from tiny dust particles to mountainous lumps.
While the image was released by the ESA Monday, the image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s narrow-angle camera back in 2006. Launched in 1997, the spacecraft will have traveled 3.5 billion km from Earth to Saturn by the completion of the project in 2017.
Cassini has been capturing some incredible images during its spectacular journey across space.
In 2014, a picture of Saturn’s D-ring - the closest ring its surface - was released and showed just how beautiful sections of the planet’s rings can be. The cosmic rainbow-coloured rings represent the variations of water ice; i.e. turquoise-hued rings are nearly pure water ice, while reddish rings contain more of the rocky material.