Saturn's cool rings
The Cassini spacecraft captures the most detailed temperature
measurements to date of Saturn's rings.
September 3, 2004
Shortly after the Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn orbit, it captured this close-up look at ring temperatures. The composite infrared spectrometer, one of 12 onboard instruments, gathered the data shown in this false-color image. Red areas are relatively warm at -261° Fahrenheit (-163° Celsius), green represents -298° F (-183° C), and blue -333° F (-203° C).
As scientists predicted, because less light shines through opaque regions like the outermost A ring, these areas are cooler than more transparent areas like the inner C ring. This image also shows, for the first time, the individual ringlets and the Cassini Division are cooler than surrounding areas.
During Cassini's 4-year tour through the saturnian system, this spectrometer will measure infrared emissions from the rings as well as from the surface and atmosphere of Saturn and its largest moon, Titan.