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Cassini Spacecraft Analyzes Saturn's Rings - 2004-07-03


The Cassini spacecraft has transmitted back to Earth new data about Saturn's rings that appear to show a recent eruption of oxygen.

U.S. space agency officials say 'an event' during January in one of Saturn's rings suddenly released a huge amount of oxygen, eroding the ring at a rate that could dissolve it in 100 million years.

The probe also found that Saturn's rings are composed of almost pure ice, but a large gap in the rings previously thought to be empty actually contains an unknown dirt-like material.

The probe also began photographing Saturn's largest moon Titan, which has eluded direct observation because of its thick, hazy atmosphere. NASA officials say the first pictures are blurry, but show terrestrial features that could be mountains or long cracks.

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