Voyager 2 took this wide-angle image of Uranus' rings as the spacecraft neared the plane of the rings less than an hour before closest approach to the planet. Voyager obtained this clear-filter image on Jan. 24, 1986, from a distance of about 117,000 kilometers (73,000 miles) from Uranus; resolution is about 16 km (10 mi). Running diagonally from upper left to lower center are the four sets of previously known discrete rings. Barely visible to the right of these appears the ansa of a very broad, faint ring not seen before. (The ansa is the portion of a ring visible on either side of a planet when viewed from a distance.) This inner ring extends about 3,000 km (1,900 mi) in width and is located approximately 1,500 km (900 mi) inside the innermost of the previously known discrete rings, the 6 ring. These figures place the inner edge of the newly found ring about 11,000 km (7,000 mi) above the cloud tops of Uranus. Since the ring is so faint, this image has been extensively processed, resulting in the blurry, patchy appearance. The diagram at right shows the positions of the inner ring and the four outer sets of rings. The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory(NASA-JPL)