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Cassini ring images delight scientists
Posted: Fri, Jul 2, 2004, 10:21 AM ET (1421 GMT)
Saturn rings seen by Cassini (NASA/JPL) Images of Saturn's rings taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it entered orbit around the planet this week are pleasing and surprising scientists with their level of detail and complexity. The images, transmitted to Earth on Thursday, hours after the spacecraft entered orbit, provided scientists with their sharpest view yet of the complex system or rings surrounding the planet. The images reveal patterns of density waves in the rings, as well as the scalloped inner edge of a ring, shaped by the gravity of a nearby moon. Other scientists reported that Cassini encountered the bow shock of the planet's magnetosphere earlier than expected, indicating that the bow shock was about 50 percent farther from the planet than where it was when Pioneer 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 flew past the planet between 1979 and 1981.
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