NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini mission has captured, in breathtaking detail, the impact of one of its tiny moons on the outermost ring.
Prometheus, which is only 53 miles across, periodically orbits through the F-ring, creating gores and streamers through the icy ring material. Gores, or channels, can be easily seen where the moon enters the bright material and streamers are created as the moon exits, dragging the tiny particles with it.
Along with sibling satellite Pandora (which is around 50 miles wide), astronomers believe that both of these natural “shepherd moons” are responsible for gravitationally corralling the F-ring into the structure we see today.
This observation was acquired by Cassini on Feb. 11, 2014, when the spacecraft was 1.3 million miles from Saturn.