Behold the Violent History of Saturn's White Whale Moon

Feb 19, 2010
Saturn's potato-shaped moon Prometheus is rendered in three dimensions in this close-up from Cassini. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

(PhysOrg.com) -- Like the battered white whale Moby Dick taunting Captain Ahab, Saturn's moon Prometheus surges toward the viewer in a 3-D image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The image exposes the irregular shape and circular surface scars on Prometheus, pointing to a violent history. These craters are probably the remnants from impacts long ago.

Prometheus is one of Saturn's innermost moons. It orbits the gas-giant at a distance of about 140,000 kilometers (86,000 miles) and is 86 kilometers (53 miles) across at its widest point. The porous, icy world was originally discovered in images taken by NASA's back in 1980.

Cassini's narrow-angle camera captured two black-and-white images of the moon on Dec. 26, 2009, and the imaging team combined the images to make this new stereo view. It looks different from the "egg-cellent" raw image of Prometheus obtained on Jan. 27 because that view shows one of the short ends of the oddly shaped moon. In this 3-D image, the sun illuminates Prometheus at a different angle, making the moon's elongated body visible.

Explore further: Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Prometheus: Over Easy

Jan 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Looking for all intents and purposes like a celestial egg after a session in Saturn's skillet, Prometheus displayed its pockmarked, irregular surface for NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Jan. ...

Cassini finds Prometheus a sculptor of Saturn's rings

Oct 26, 2005

New findings from members of the Cassini imaging team show that certain prominent features in Saturn's narrow and contorted F ring can be understood in terms of a simple gravitational interaction with the ...

Rhea's Wisps in Color

Feb 28, 2006

Bright, wispy markings stretch across a region of darker terrain on Saturn's moon Rhea. In this extreme false-color view, the roughly north-south fractures occur within strips of material (which appear greenish ...

Recommended for you

Giant crater in Russia's far north sparks mystery

3 hours ago

A vast crater discovered in a remote region of Siberia known to locals as "the end of the world" is causing a sensation in Russia, with a group of scientists being sent to investigate.

NASA Mars spacecraft prepare for close comet flyby

4 hours ago

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

20 hours ago

For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and is left to dry, b ...

How do we terraform Venus?

20 hours ago

It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough. The challenges for Venus are totally different than for Mars. How will we need to fix Venus?

Biomarkers of the deep

22 hours ago

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Spain is a unique geological site that has fascinated astrobiologists for decades. The Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) in Spain's Río Tinto area is the largest known deposit ...

User comments : 0