New Cassini Image of Saturn’s Rings and Moons

New Cassini Image of Saturns Rings and Moons

Saturn’s rings and moons. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This new image from the Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s rings and five of its moons.

Five moons pose for the international Cassini spacecraft to create this beautiful portrait with Saturn’s rings.

This view, from 29 July 2011, looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.

At the far right, and obscuring Saturn itself, is the planet’s second largest moon Rhea, which spans 1,528 km (950 mi). Rhea is closest to Cassini in this composition, at a distance of 1.1 million kilometers (683,500 miles). Its heavily cratered surface bears witness to a violent history, with many craters overlapping or erasing the traces of older impact events.

The nearly 400 km-wide (250 mi-wide) Mimas lies just beyond, and seemingly levitates just above Saturn’s innermost rings. The outline of the moon’s large, distinguishing crater Herschel is partially covered by Rhea, but can just be made out along with numerous smaller craters.

Brightly reflective Enceladus appears above the center of the image and lies beyond the rings, at a distance of 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Cassini. Although not visible in this image, icy Enceladus is covered with a network of frozen ridges and troughs, with plumes of ice particles jetting from fissures in its southern hemisphere.

To the lower left, tiny Pandora, just 81 km (50 mi) across, appears skewered by Saturn’s outer rings – in fact, it orbits between the planet’s A and F rings.

Last but not least, the irregularly shaped Janus lies at the far left of the image, several shadowy surface markings corresponding to large impact craters.

The Cassini–Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA, and ASI, the Italian space agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington DC, USA.

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