NASA’s Cassini spacecraft continues its weekly ring-grazing orbits, diving just past the outside of Saturn’s F ring, it is tracking several small, persistent objects there.
Curiously, scientists state that the unidentified objects may have SOLID bodies inside, given the fact that they have already survived several ‘collisions’.
This annotated version of the images shows the objects, informally called F16QA (right image) and F16QB (left image).
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has picked up images showing two strange objects hovering over Saturn’s F-ring, reports the space agency’s website. These have been dubbed as F16QA (right image) and F16QB (left image). Researchers indicate that objects occasionally crash through the F ring’s bright nucleus, producing spectacular collision structures, and since they have survived several of them, scientists believe that they might contain solid bodies inside them.
According to NASA, the images were obtained using the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 5, 2017, at a distance of 610,000 miles (982,000 kilometers, left image) and 556,000 miles (894,000 kilometers, right image) from the F ring. Image scale is about 4 miles (6 kilometers) per pixel.
The faint entourage of dust that is seen around the objects in the photographs is probably the result of a recent collision. Scientists suggest that they have been formed following the disturbances caused by the moon Prometheus. However, that’s just one theory which proves the outer planets in our solar system are far more mysterious than we ever imagined.
Experts suggest that the objects form as loose clumps in the F-ring core.
The enigmatic objects were detected for the first time in spring of 2016 as the spacecraft passed from more equatorial orbits into orbits with a steep incline over the planet’s equator.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Check out the most detailed images of Saturn’s rings ever taken: