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Edges of Saturn’s rings are fractal

Li, Jun and Ostoja-Starzewski, Martin (2015) Edges of Saturn’s rings are fractal. SpringerPlus, 4 . Art. No. 158. ISSN 2193-1801. PMCID PMC4392038.

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The images recently sent by the Cassini spacecraft mission (on the NASA website show the complex and beautiful rings of Saturn. Over the past few decades, various conjectures were advanced that Saturn’s rings are Cantor-like sets, although no convincing fractal analysis of actual images has ever appeared. Here we focus on four images sent by the Cassini spacecraft mission (slide #42 “Mapping Clumps in Saturn’s Rings”, slide #54 “Scattered Sunshine”, slide #66 taken two weeks before the planet’s August 2009 equinox, and slide #68 showing edge waves raised by Daphnis on the Keeler Gap) and one image from the Voyager 2 mission in 1981. Using three box-counting methods, we determine the fractal dimension of edges of rings seen here to be consistently about 1.63 ~ 1.78. This clarifies in what sense Saturn’s rings are fractal.

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Additional Information:© 2015 Li and Ostoja-Starzewski; licensee Springer. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. Received: 8 January 2015; Accepted: 15 March 2015; Published: 1 April 2015. This work was made possible by the NSF support under the grant CMMI-1030940. Authors’ contributions: JL carried out the analysis of images and helped to draft the manuscript. MO-S conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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Subject Keywords:Saturn’s rings; Fractals; Cassini mission; Ring divisions
PubMed Central ID:PMC4392038
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150427-083905396
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56990
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:27 Apr 2015 15:58
Last Modified:06 May 2020 21:58

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