Cassini flies by Saturn's tortured moon Mimas

August 5, 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: Space image: Dione flyby

Related Stories

Space image: Dione flyby

January 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.

Saturn and Mimas on Nature's Canvas

December 4, 2004

In a splendid portrait created by light and gravity, Saturn's lonely moon Mimas is seen against the cool, blue-streaked backdrop of Saturn's northern hemisphere. Delicate shadows cast by the rings arc gracefully across the ...

Image: Groovy rings of Saturn

March 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.

Cassini catches Saturn moons in paintball fight

October 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have learned that distinctive, colorful bands and splotches embellish the surfaces of Saturn's inner, mid-size moons. The reddish and bluish hues on the ...

Recommended for you

Cheap, sustainable battery made from tree bark tannins

December 18, 2017

(Phys.org)—Tannins may be best known for their presence in red wine and tea, but in a new study researchers have demonstrated for the first time that tannins from tree bark can also serve as battery cathode materials. As ...

Nanotubes go with the flow to penetrate brain tissue

December 18, 2017

Rice University researchers have invented a device that uses fast-moving fluids to insert flexible, conductive carbon nanotube fibers into the brain, where they can help record the actions of neurons.

How fungi helped create life as we know it

December 18, 2017

Today our world is visually dominated by animals and plants, but this world would not have been possible without fungi, say University of Leeds scientists.

0 comments

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.