September 18, 2005
Cassini Probe Spies Spokes in Saturn's Rings
The Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn has finally spotted spokes cutting across the planet's rings, a phenomenon astronomers have long hoped their plucky orbiter might find.
While flying past the dark side of Saturn's B ring, Cassini's camera eye photographed the spokes - which appear as radial markings - in a series of three images taken over about 27 minutes. The find is a gem of sorts for mission imaging scientists, who have been hunting for the ring spokes since Cassini arrived at Saturn.
"We've been on the lookout for them since February, 2004," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO, of the spokes in an e-mail interview. "Spokes are one of those Saturn-system phenomena that we are keenly interested in understanding."