NOTE: Click on the image to view it at its highest resolution (325K).
The peak brightness of the E Ring occurs at 3.9 Saturn radii (235,000 km), coinciding with the orbit of Enceladus. In the HST images it can be traced out to a maximum distance of approximately 8 Rs (480,000 km). The vertical thickness of the ring, on the other hand, is smallest at Enceladus' orbit, with the ring puffing up noticeably at larger distances to 15,000 km or more thick.
Also visible in this image, between the E Ring and the overexposed outermost part of the main rings near the lower edge of the frame, is the tenuous, thin, 6000 km-wide G Ring at 2.8 Rs (170,000 km). This is among the first earth-based observations of the G Ring, which was discovered by the Pioneer 11 spacecraft in 1979. Noticeably thinner than the E Ring and more neutral in color, the G Ring is thought to be composed of larger, macroscopic particles, and to pose a significant hazard to spacecraft.
The faint diagonal band in the lower right part of the image is due to diffracted light from the heavily-overexposed planet.
Credit: Phil Nicholson (Cornell University), Mark Showalter (NASA-Ames/Stanford) and NASA
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