These new moons also appear to contain methane - a red flag space boffins look for when hunting extraterrestrial life. NASA doesn't now have any concrete plans to return to Saturn, though there are reportedly a handful of proposed missions that could see yet another robotic probe head to the ringed planet. Now, the Cassini team revealed its surprise at finding such elements in the last image of Saturn's rings ever taken by Cassini. "No one imagined that the rings were held by shared responsibility", he said.
Also, the team has a new theory as to why Saturn's rings aren't spreading out and dissipating into space.
According to Mr Tiscareno the propellers are similar to baby planets forming in disks around young stars and follow nearly identical physical processes. This image from NASA's Cassini mission clearly show the ring's density waves created by the small moons.
Cassini was able to capture images of six such baby planets - now known as Bleriot, Earhart, Santos-Dumont, Sikorsky, Post and Quimby.
Cassini's Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) returned a host of data from Saturn's upper atmosphere during the grand finale - the phase before its death plunge.
Michele Dougherty, leader of Cassini's Magnetometer team from Imperial College London, said he and his colleague had been studying the information obtained by the NASA spacecraft to investigate the true length of the planet's day. Dougherty says the sensitivity of Cassini's magnetic field measurements almost quadrupled over the course of the spacecraft's 22 Grand Finale orbits - meaning that, if the tilt of Saturn's field is greater than 0.016 degrees, researchers should be able to detect it.
"We have a lot of work to do to understand how they are getting in there", Planetary scientist Mark Perry of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory explains. It turns out to be a group effort. "What Confines the Rings of Saturn?" is planned for publication October 18 in the Astrophysical Journal. Without Cassini there to provide further data, answers might he hard to come by. This spreading happens because faster-moving particles that orbit closer to Saturn occasionally collide with slower particles on slightly farther-out orbits. But new research shows the A ring, the outermost of Saturn's large, bright rings, is confined by seven moons.
The scientists discovered that confinement of the A ring is shared among the moons Pan, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Mimas and Janus.
The scientists now hope the new data will help them determine the age and origin of Saturn's rings.
Tajeddine will present these results in a poster at the DPS meeting, and they will be published Wednesday in the Astrophysical Journal.
"There are whole careers to be forged in the analysis of data from Cassini", Linda Spilker, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in a statement.