On its recent close flyby of Mimas (MY-muss), the Cassini spacecraftfound the Saturnian moon looking battered and bruised, with a surfacethat may be the most heavily cratered in the Saturn system.
The Aug. 2 flyby of Saturn's 'Death Star' moon returned eye-catchingimages of its most distinctive feature, the spectacular 140-kilometerdiameter (87-mile) landslide-filled Hershel crater. Numerous rounded andworn-out craters, craters within other craters and long groovesreminiscent of those seen on asteroids are also seen in the new images.
The new Mimas images are available at http://ciclops.org,http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov, and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. Alsoavailable is an approach movie showing Mimas, and a zoom and pan acrossthe surface of one of the highest resolution images.
The closest images show Mimas, measuring 397 kilometers (247 miles)across, in the finest detail yet seen. One dramatic view acquired nearCassini's closest approach shows the moon against the backdrop ofSaturn's rings. A false color composite image reveals a region in blueand red of presumably different composition or texture just west of, andperhaps related to, the Hershel crater.
Scientists hope that analysis of the images will tell them how manycrater-causing impactors have coursed through the Saturn system, andwhere those objects might have come from. There is also the suspicion,yet to be investigated, that the grooves, first discovered by NASA'sVoyager spacecraft but now seen up close, are related to the giantimpact that caused the biggest crater of all, Herschel, on the oppositeside of the moon.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, theEuropean Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet PropulsionLaboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology inPasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science MissionDirectorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboardcameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging teamconsists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. Theimaging operations center and team leader (Dr. C. Porco) are based atthe Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Cite This Page: