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Meet Rhea, Janus, Mimas and Many More

May 29, 2010

The names I mentioned in the title are the names of few of the moons of Saturn. NASA’s Cassini-Huygen mission has been sending back spectacular images of Saturn and it’s moon and has been revealing many of it’s secrets. For today, I will just post few of cool picture sent by Cassini and will try to write in detail about the findings in my later posts. The picture above is the most recent one and shows moons Rhea and Janus along with the Saturn rings. The moon above the ring is Janus ( diameter 178 kms) which is at a distance of 1.1 million kms from Cassini spacecraft while Rhea (diameter 1,528 kms), the larger of the two moons is about 1.6 million kms from the spacecraft. You can see how lumpy is Janus while Rhea is spherical in shape. The explanation for weird shape of Janus can be in it’s small size. When the body mass is huge, self-gravity plays an important role in shaping the object. Gravity acts inwards towards the center thereby making the shape of the object relatively spherical; larger is the mass, larger is gravity’s effect in shaping the object. That can be one of the explanations for as to why Janus with a diameter of 179 km is lumpy while Rhea with diameter of 1528 km is spherical.

This is another recent image sent by Cassini. The image is of the largest moon of Saturn, Titan with a diameter of 5,150 kms. The image shows darker side of the moon and on the top, you can see the light scattering from Titan’s atmosphere resulting in amazing shining ring.

This is again an awesome image. The larger moon is Rhea while the smaller moon is Epimetheus ( diameter 113 km). When this picture was taken, Rhea was at a distance of 1.2 million kms while Epimetheus was about 1.6 million miles from the Cassini spacecraft. If you look closely , you can again see lumpy features of the smaller moon as was seen in Janus image. Saturn rings can be seen in the background as well.

The above image is of moon Mimas ( diameter 396 km). You can clearly see a huge crater on it’s surface. The crater is named Herschel crater and is about 1/3rd the diameter of the moon itself. The size of the moon is not large enough for it to be spherical, in fact the shape of the moon is more of oval in shape with dimensions being 209 x 196 x 191 kilometers. The impact which created this huge crater, also caused fractures on the other face of this moon, as a result of shock impact. Mimas and Rhea are said to be most cratered bodies in our solar system.

Last image for today’s post is of moon Prometheus (diameter  86 kms) and you can see some of its craters as well as its unique potato like shape. There are some more cool images of many other moons including some temperature data, icy plumes, and colorful Saturn rings which I will post in later posts.

Photo and information: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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1 Comment Leave a Comment

  • 1. Prasoon Diwakar » O&hellip  |  June 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    […] named while there might be more. I posted some of the pictures of Saturn moons in one of my earlier post. Basically these moons can be divided into two sets- one which are large in size and mass and […]

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