Triple Crescent

Triple CrescentSaturn has many moons. The three shown here—Titan, Mimas, and Rhea—show marked contrasts in their surface features. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and the largest moon in this image, appears fuzzy because we only see its clouds. Because Titan’s atmosphere refracts light around the moon, its crescent is wrapped just a little further around the moon than it would on an airless body. Rhea (upper left) appears rough because its icy surface is heavily cratered. A close inspection of Mimas, though difficult to see at this scale, would show surface irregularities because of its violent history.

Image Credit: NASA

One more thing … If it’s clear where you are this evening, go outside and look up in the western sky just after sunset. There’s a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter tonight. They will be separated by less than half the diameter of the Full Moon.

Mimas and Atlas (If You Look Carefully)

converted PNM fileThe great eye of Saturn’s moon Mimas is a 130-km-wide impact crater called Herschel. It seems to be looking back at you in this picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The small moon Atlas is also visible (sort of) just outside the main rings. You’re probably mistaking it for a bit of dust on you monitor. Mimas is 397 km across; Atlas is 32 km across.

Image Credit: NASA

Crescent Mimas

Crescent Mimas

Death Star MimasCassini has seen back this crescent view of Saturn’s moon Mimas, the long shadows showing off its many craters, indicators of the moon’s violent history. The most famous evidence of a collision on Mimas (just under 400 km across) is the crater Herschel that gives Mimas its Death-Star-like appearance.

Image Credits: NASA


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 12 December, 2011, flyby of Dione.

Dione is 698 miles (1,123 km) across, and its day side dominates the view on the right of the image. Mimas is on the left and measures 246 miles (396 km) across.

Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing side of Mimas and in the area between the trailing hemisphere and anti-Saturn side of Dione. North on both moons is rotated 20 degrees to the right of the top of the picture.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL


A quintet of Saturn’s moons appear in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across) is on the far left. Pandora (81 kilometers, or 50 miles across) orbits between the A ring and the thin F ring near the middle of the image. Brightly reflective Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across) appears above the center of the image. Part of Saturn’s second largest moon Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is visible at the right edge of the image. The smaller moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles across) can be seen beyond Rhea also on the right side of the image.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Rhea is closest moon to Cassini here. The rings are beyond Rhea and Mimas. Enceladus is beyond the rings.

The image was taken by Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 29 July, 2011. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (684,000 miles) from Rhea and 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Enceladus.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL