Rings on the horizon

January 26, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson
A close look at Enceladus, with Saturn's rings in the background. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft has taken a some recent images of two of Saturn’s most notorious moons, where in both images the planet’s rings serve as a backdrop. Above, Enceladus stands out with its cratered surface, but Cassini’s camera also catches a glimpse of the planet’s rings in the background. Geologically young terrain in the middle latitudes of the moon shifts to older, cratered terrain in the northern latitudes.

The image was taken during the spacecraft’s flyby of Enceladus on Nov. 30, 2010, in visible with Cassini’s spacecraft narrow-angle camera, from a distance of approximately 46,000 kilometers (29,000 miles) from Enceladus. Image scale is 276 meters (906 feet) per pixel.

Below is a ‘raw’ view of Titan, and the rings.

A closeup of Titan rings, in front of Saturn's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

This close-up view of Titan was taken on January 15, 2011, shows the cloudy atmosphere of the moon, with the rings in the background. Cassini was about 839,213 kilometers away from Titan.

Explore further: Cassini Heading to Titan after Tagging Enceladus

More information: See more images at the Cassini website

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1 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2011
Geologically young terrain in the middle latitudes of the moon shifts to older, cratered terrain in the northern latitudes.

Statement makes no sense. If the craters were older they'd have been weathered, and so wouldn't be there...

The relative age of a crater vs a plain cannot logically be inferred to be older from a photograph.

The fact that several of the craters show up with sharp, clean edges cries that they are relatively young, and haven't been weathered or contaminated by ejecta from other craters, etc.

on the other hand, you can't say what the relative age of the plains are from a photograph, because there is no logical reference. You've made a fallacy in assuming that there used to be craters there which have now been eroded and covered by "new" ice deposits, but there is no evidence of that.

Regardless of absolute age, the craters could well have formed after the plains, as they are, after all, a quarter of the way across the surface of the moon.

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