Cassini flies by Saturn's tortured moon Mimas

Aug 05, 2005
Cassini flies by Saturn's tortured moon Mimas

On its recent close flyby of Mimas (MY-muss), the Cassini spacecraft found the Saturnian moon looking battered and bruised, with a surface that may be the most heavily cratered in the Saturn system.

The Aug. 2 flyby of Saturn's 'Death Star' moon returned eye-catching images of its most distinctive feature, the spectacular 140-kilometer diameter (87-mile) landslide-filled Hershel crater. Numerous rounded and worn-out craters, craters within other craters and long grooves reminiscent of those seen on asteroids are also seen in the new images.

The closest images show Mimas, measuring 397 kilometers (247 miles) across, in the finest detail yet seen. One dramatic view acquired near Cassini's closest approach shows the moon against the backdrop of Saturn's rings. A false color composite image reveals a region in blue and red of presumably different composition or texture just west of, and perhaps related to, the Hershel crater.

Scientists hope that analysis of the images will tell them how many crater-causing impactors have coursed through the Saturn system, and where those objects might have come from. There is also the suspicion, yet to be investigated, that the grooves, first discovered by NASA's Voyager spacecraft but now seen up close, are related to the giant impact that caused the biggest crater of all, Herschel, on the opposite side of the moon.

The new Mimas images are available at ciclops.org, saturn.jpl.nasa.gov, and www.nasa.gov/cassini. Also available is an approach movie showing Mimas, and a zoom and pan across the surface of one of the highest resolution images.

Source: Space Science Institute

Explore further: Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view

Related Stories

A guide to Saturn through opposition 2015

May 13, 2015

The month of May generally means the end of star party season here in Florida, as schools let out in early June, and humid days make for thunderstorm-laden nights. This also meant that we weren't about to ...

Image: Groovy rings of Saturn

Mar 17, 2015

From afar, Saturn's rings look like a solid, homogenous disk of material. But upon closer examination from Cassini, we see that there are varied structures in the rings at almost every scale imaginable.

Saturn's moons: What a difference a decade makes

Dec 11, 2014

Almost immediately after NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft made their brief visits to Saturn in the early 1980s, scientists were hungry for more. The Voyagers had offered them only a brief glimpse of a family ...

Cassini finds a video gamers' paradise at Saturn

Nov 26, 2012

(Phys.org)—You could call this "Pac-Man, the Sequel." Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted a second feature shaped like the 1980s video game icon in the Saturn system, this time on the moon ...

Recommended for you

Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view

6 hours ago

A new view of Ceres, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 23, shows finer detail is becoming visible on the dwarf planet. The spacecraft snapped the image at a distance of 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) ...

NASA telescopes set limits on space-time quantum 'foam'

12 hours ago

A team of scientists has used X-ray and gamma-ray observations of some of the most distant objects in the universe to better understand the nature of space and time. Their results set limits on the quantum ...

Shining message about the end of the Dark Ages

14 hours ago

An international team, including researchers from the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), has discovered three "cosmic Methusalems" from the earliest years of the universe. These unusual stars are about 13 ...

The kinematics of merging galaxies

15 hours ago

The unprecedented sensitivity of space telescopes has powered a revolution over the past decade in our understanding of galaxies in the young universe during its first billion years of existence. These primitive ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.