NASA Pictures Of Saturn's Rings Show How Moon Actually Makes Them Ripple

Getting up close and personal with Saturn.

24/08/2016 16:20

It might be over a decade since the Cassini space probe first identified Saturn’s Daphnis moon, but we are still no closer to knowing what it looks like up close.

That is until now.

Kevin Gill/Flickr

NASA software engineer Kevin Gill has created an incredible set of visual simulations based on the latest pictures from Cassini.

The images show a telescopic view of how Daphnis interacts within Saturn’s intricate ring system.

The moon, one of the smallest of Saturn’s 62 moons, at only 5 miles in diameter, is located in the Keeler Gap - a gap in Saturn’s A ring.

In fact it is the moon’s orbit and path within the Keeler gap that keeps it clear for 42 kilometres.

It also causes upward waves in the edges of the gap that are clearly shown in the pictures as a wavy pattern.

The pictures, aptly named ‘Daphnis in the Keeler Gap’, are not the first for Gill who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

Gill previously visualised what Mars would look like if it were covered in a similar terrain to Earth, with vegetation and oceans.

Using detailed maps of the topography of Mars, he worked out the likely places where islands, mountains and different types of vegetation might thrive on the changed surface, based on their height, temperature and proximity to water.

The images were warmly received online, including by SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk - who has previously stated his intention to one day attempt to colonise the planet.

Suggest a correction