Daphnis, the wavemaker moon, was never seen as close as it has been revealed in a new picture released by NASA and captures by its Cassini probe. NASA Cassini spacecraft clicked the stunning picture while making a ring-grazing pass over the outer edges of the rings of the Saturn.
Daphnis is eight kilometers across and it orbits the Saturn witthin the 42-kilometer wide area called the Keeler Gap.
The gravity of Daphnis causes waves in the edges of the gap in horizontal as well as vericle directions. In 2009, NASA Cassini probe managed to observe the vertical structures around the time of the planet's equinox.
Saturn also has other small ring moons called Atlas and Pan. Just like these two moons, Daphnis apparently has a narrow ridge around its equator. It also has a fairly smooth mantle of material on its surface which is possibly an accumulation of fine particles from the rings.
A few craters can also be seen in the picture. An additional ridge appears further north that runs parallel to the equatorial band.
The image also shows fine details in the rings. The picture shows, in particular, a grainy texture in several wide lanes, hinting at structures where particles are clumping together.
Compared to the otherwise sharp edges of the Keeler Gap, the wave peak in the gap edge at left has a softened appearance.
This is possibly because of the movement of fine ring particles that are spread out into the gap after Daphnis' last close approach to that edge on a previous orbit.
The picture shows a faint, narrow tendril of ring material following just behind Daphnis.
The Daphnis drawing a packet of material out of the ring may have resulted to this. Now, that packet is speading itself out.
Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera clicked the picture in visible green light. The picture was captured at a distance of about 28,000 kilometres from Daphnis.