CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Bleriot Recaptured
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Bleriot Recaptured
PIA 14649

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  The propeller-shaped white dashes near the bottom of this Cassini spacecraft image reveal the location of a small moonlet embedded in Saturn's A ring. The gravity of this tiny moonlet affects the orbits of nearby ring particles and creates the propeller feature, nicknamed Bleriot by imaging scientists, that Cassini sees.

Researchers hope to understand more about the migration of planets during their formation by studying how the orbits of Bleriot and other propeller features observed by Cassini change over time. For more views of Bleriot, see PIA12789 and PIA12792.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 38 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 11, 2012.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 349,000 miles (561,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 41 degrees. Image scale is 2 miles (3 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit http://ciclops.org, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: February 25, 2013 (Happy 70th Birthday, George) (PIA 14649)
Image/Caption Information


Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Feb 27, 2013 at 9:54 AM):
this is one of the phenomena i find fascinating. are they really moonlets? i have my doubts. my best guess is they are semi stable ruble collections. large enough to have the gravitational effect, but unstable enough to have a moving center of gravity. as the center "collects" particles from the ring neighborhood, the collisions also erodes particles from the pile.
these centers would not necessarily have an orbital period that matched the period of the ring material they are enclosed in. if i recall, that is what the measurements indicate. this hypothesis also implies the propellers might not persist. any missing propellers out there?
whatever the cause, the effect is marvelous to look at.

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