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: Is there a statistical bias to the orientation of spiral galaxies?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

Saturn's B-ring: Taking a closer look

Sep 11, 2012

(Phys.org)—Clumpy particles in Saturn's B-ring provide stark contrast to the delicately ordered ringlets seen in the rest of this view presented by the Cassini spacecraft.

Space image: Dione flyby

Jan 24, 2012

Saturn's moon Mimas peeks out from behind the night side of the larger moon Dione in this Cassini image captured during the spacecraft's Dec. 12, 2011, flyby of Dione.

Recommended for you

Wild ducks take flight in open cluster

42 minutes ago

The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently ...

Image: The Pillars of Creation

1 hour ago

The Pillars of Creation (seen above) is an image of a portion of the Eagle nebula (M16) taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. It soon became one of the most iconic space images of all time. The Eagle nebula ...

Student to live in simulated space habitat

1 hour ago

A Purdue University industrial engineering doctoral student is among six "crew members" spending the next eight months in a domed habitat on a volcanic landscape mimicking life on a Martian outpost.

The wake-up call that sent hearts racing

4 hours ago

"But as the minutes ticked by, the relaxed attitude of many of us began to dissolve into apprehension. Our levels of adrenaline and worry began to rise."

US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration

13 hours ago

The United States and India, fresh from sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars' orbit earlier this month, on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on future exploration of the Red Planet.

User comments : 0