The European Space Agency posted this image on its Flickr page this week (May 5, 2014). It shows a section of Saturn’s beautiful rings, first observed in the year 1610 by early telescopes … and more recently observed close-up by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn, weaving in and among its moons, since 2004.
This image shows a portion of Saturn C-ring. The image is closest to Saturn on the left, with the B-ring beginning just right of center.
The variation in the color of the rings arises from the differences in their composition. Turquoise-hued rings contain particles of nearly pure water ice, while reddish rings contain ice particles with more contaminants.
Via Jennifer Welch (@MicrobeLover on Twitter)
Bottom line: The Cassini spacecraft captured this image of multiple colors within the rings of Saturn. Turquoise-hued rings of Saturn contain particles of nearly pure water ice, while reddish rings contain ice particles with more contaminants.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.