…it’s a space sta– oh nevermind. It is a moon. 😉
Photos are in from Cassini’s flyby of Mimas on Saturday and they don’t disappoint! The 250-mile wide inner moon of Saturn performed very well in front of Cassini’s cameras, displaying its heavily-cratered surface and showing off its trademark Herschel crater; at 88 miles wide it’s a third the diameter of the entire moon itself! (Plus it gives Mimas its uncanny resemblance to the Death Star…sans planet-demolishing ray.) In comparison, if our planet were to have a crater of relative size, it would be 2,500 miles wide…about that distance from NYC to LA!
The raw image above (sharpened a bit and rotated 180º from the original) shows the moon against a backdrop of Saturn’s cloudtops, hence the lighter color. Cassini was about 45,000 miles away from Mimas when that one was taken.
Here’s a few more, the one below showing the steep walls of Herschel crater which rise up sharply 3 miles from the crater floor.
Mimas, like many of its sister moons, is composed mostly of water ice and a small bit of rock. At its low surface temperature of -344º F, water ice behaves basically like rock does on Earth.
This was a great flyby by the inimitable Cassini, kudos to the imaging team and check out more photos on the main Cassini imaging team site here! (Just make sure the deflector shields are safely down.)
Images: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute