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Astronomy Picture of the Day
2004 March 1
Cassini Closes in on Saturn
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Are they gone? They were not originally predicted to even be there. The mystery revolves around strange shadow-like spokes that appeared on Saturn's large B-ring, the large middle ring in the complex system of particles that orbits Saturn. The spokes were discovered 23 years ago by the passing Voyager spacecraft and attributed to very fine dust of unknown origin. The missing spokes were noted in the above image, taken last month, from the robot Cassini spacecraft now approaching Saturn. Launched in 1997, the distance remaining between Cassini and Saturn is now less than half that between the Earth and the Sun. Cassini is expected to enter orbit around the ringed Jovian giant planet in July and drop a probe onto Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.

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