NASA’s Cassini probe, which was in orbit around Saturn from 2004 to 2017, changed its trajectory during the last phase of the mission so that it could fly closer to the planet and its rings. During the “grand finale”, Cassini succeeded in passing between Saturn and its rings, before diving onto the planet itself. This unique configuration allowed it to make exceptional observations of the ring system.
An international team has now brought together all the high-resolution images obtained during this time, as well as spectral and thermal profiles, to better constrain the physical properties of these rings. Researchers from two French laboratories, the Laboratoire de planétologie et géodynamique (LPG, CNRS/Univ. Angers/Univ. Nantes), and the Institut de physique du globe de Paris (IPGP/Université de Paris, CNRS), led by Cécile Ferrari and Sébastien Rodriguez, were involved in this study, which is published in Science.
Read the research paper: M. S. Tiscareno, P. D. Nicholson, J. N. Cuzzi, L. J. Spilker, C. D. Murray, M. M. Hedman, J. E. Colwell, J. A. Burns, S. M. Brooks, R. N. Clark, N. J. Cooper, E. Deau, C. Ferrari, G. Filacchione, R. G. Jerousek, S. Le Mouélic, R. Morishima, S. Pilorz, S. Rodriguez, M. R. Showalter, S. V. Badman, E. J. Baker, B. J. Buratti, K. H. Baines, C. Sotin, Close-range remote sensing of Saturn’s rings during Cassini’s ring-grazing orbits and grand finale, Science