Empty storm-like ring in an image taken from 1,900 miles away from Saturn has puzzled ring scientists of NASA as the Cassini spacecraft photos will change the entire understanding hitherto of Saturn rings.
The second-largest planet in our solar system has absolutely nothing between the huge gaps between the rings of Saturn, not even the faintest hint of some kind of matter or particles to their surprise. But the rings are made up of fast moving particles of ice and other space debris.
The 10-year-old Cassini voyage has been circling Saturn since 2004, and is scheduled to make 22 more dives between the rings before plunging to death into Saturn in September 2017. But the mission has sent shocking revelations about Saturn rings than what has been believed by space scientists so far.
“The region between the rings and Saturn is ‘the big empty,’ apparently,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He said the scientists will explore the new mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected.
They are focusing on safe dives by cassini with its antenna pointed in the direction of oncoming ring particles, shielding its delicate instruments as a protective measure. It has 21 more dives and four of them pass through the innermost fringes of Saturn’s rings, necessitating that the antenna be used as a shield on those orbits.
“It was a bit disorienting — we weren’t hearing what we expected to hear,” said William Kurth, RPWS team lead at the University of Iowa. “I’ve listened to our data from the first dive several times and I can probably count on my hands the number of dust particle impacts I hear.”
The team is waiting for Cassini data after its May 2 dive at 12:38 p.m. PDT (3:38 p.m. EDT) in a region very close to where it passed on the previous dive.