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EarthSky // Science Wire, Space Release Date: May 07, 2014

Rainbow rings of Saturn

Turquoise-hued rings of Saturn contain particles of nearly pure water ice, while reddish rings contain ice particles with more contaminants.

Saturn's rings, via the Cassini spacecraft.  Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado

Saturn’s rings, via the Cassini spacecraft. The region shown in this image spans about 10,000 kilometers (about 6,000 miles). Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado

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.

Read more at ESA’s Flickr page.

Via Jennifer Welch (@MicrobeLover on Twitter)

Here's one of the latest views of Saturn by Cassini.  This composite image was snapped by the Cassini spacecraft on May 4, 2014 and processed by Val Klavans. More details: on Flickr

Here’s one of the latest views of Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft. Cassini acquired the data – and Val Klavans processed it into this composite image May 4, 2014. More details on Flickr

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.