Mimas and the Rings

Mimas hovers in front of Saturn’s rings in a color image composed from raw Cassini data taken on January 31, 2011. I used data taken with Cassini’s green, infrared and ultraviolet spectral filters to compose this colorized version.

Known as the “Death Star” moon, 250-mile (400 km) -wide Mimas’ northern hemisphere is dominated by the 80-mile (128 km) -wide Herschel Crater, which gives it an uncanny resemblance to the sci-fi space station. Herschel is not directly visible in the image above but its rim can be seen along Mimas’ western limb, giving the moon a flattened appearance. (From this angle it looks more like the silhouette of South Park’s “Kenny” than the Empire’s battle station!)

A crater on Earth as proportionally as large as Herschel would be 2,500 miles (4,000 km) across.

Bright water ice reflects the sunlight in many of the crater walls on Mimas. Like many of Saturn’s moons Mimas’ surface is composed of a lot of water ice, which is highly reflective and hard as rock at the cold temperatures found that far out in the solar system.

Saturn’s rings are in the background.

Image: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute. Edited by J. Major.

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