New Cassini Image Reveals Strange Bends In Saturn’s Rings

August 2, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

saturn's rings
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

An optical illusion in space!

A new image released by NASA shows bends in some of Saturn’s rings. The Cassini Spacecraft captured the image last month, and it seemingly shows the planets A and F rings appearing to be warped around the body of the ringed planet.

NASA explains the composition of the Saturn’s rings: “Saturn's rings are made primarily of water ice. Since pure water ice is white, it is believed that different colors in the rings reflect different amounts of contamination by other materials, such as rock or carbon compounds.”

The A and F rings seem to bend around the body of the planet because Saturn’s atmosphere acts like a large lens, according to NASA.

“Saturn’s atmosphere absorbs some of the light reflected by the rings as it passes through. But absorption is not the only thing that happens to that light. As it passes from space to the atmosphere and back out into space towards Cassini’s cameras, its path is refracted, or bent. The result is that the ring's image appears warped.” NASA stated in a media release.

So what you are actually observing is an optical illusion in space — it’s merely your vision playing a trick on you.  

The image was taken on June 9th, 2016 at a distance of roughly 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers away) from Saturn.

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