Saturn's Rings Look like a Gene Davis Painting in New Cassini Images


As Cassini finishes its off its last days before taking a final plunge into the heart of Saturn, NASA is sharing us to a lot of new images that show the wonderful mosaic that comprise the Saturnian system. One latest image, released this week, shows an up-close look of Saturn’s rings, reminiscent of an intricately striped Gene Davis painting.

Davis, a famous American Color Field artist, was enamored with stitching together multicolored vertical stripes on a canvas, finely woven together in various sizes so as to mesmerize the viewer into a state of still wonder. Saturn, it seems, had the same idea in mind when it decided to put some rings on it.

Davis's "Black Watch Series 185-3-3"

Gene Davis, via the Smithsonian Institution on Flickr

The new Cassini images are the highest-resolution images of Saturn’s rings ever collected — not bad for a 20-year old spacecraft. The view shows a region of the rings between 61,300 and 65,600 miles from the center of the planet. Cassini snapped these babies up on July 6 of this year, from a distance of about 47,000 miles away.

This first image below is a composite of images taken with green, red, and blue color filters. The water ice caked into the rings would normally create an intense white look — so the color filters, while creating a somewhat false appearance, at least provide a contrast for the viewer to better distinguish the stripes from one-another.

The highest resolution of Saturn's rings ever captured by Cassini.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The narrow rings are about 25 miles wide, while the broader rings range from 200 to 300 miles in width.

This next image below is a color-enhanced picture of the rings emphasizing which rings skew red and which do not.

A color-enhanced version of the same image.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

On September 15, Cassini will finally trudge headfirst into Saturn as a final farewell, collecting a slew of data on the way to total destruction. Fun stuff!

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