Saturn's Rings Temperature
The varying temperatures of Saturn's rings are depicted here in this false-colour image from the Cassini spacecraft.
This image represents the most detailed look to date at the temperature of Saturn's rings. The image was made from data taken by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer instrument.
Red represents temperatures of about 110 Kelvin, and blue 70 Kelvin. Green is equivalent to 90 Kelvin. Water freezes at 273 Kelvin. The spatial resolution of the ring portion of the image is 200 kilometres.
The data show that the opaque region of the rings, like the outer A ring (on the far right) and the middle B ring, are cooler, while more transparent sections, like the Cassini Division (in red just inside the A ring) or the inner C ring (shown in yellow and red), are relatively warmer.
The temperature data were taken on 1 July 2004, of the unlit side of the rings. In order to show the full breadth of the rings, a strip of temperature data was mapped onto a picture of the lit side of the rings taken with the Cassini narrow angle camera on 11 May 2004, a little over a month before Saturn orbit insertion. Cassini is too close to the planet and hence no pictures of the unlit side of the rings are available, so the temperature data were mapped onto a picture of the lit side of rings. Saturn is overexposed and pure white in this picture. Saturn's moon Enceladus is visible below the rings, toward the centre. The original image ("Rings and Moons") and caption are also available here.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.