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Cassini Discovers New Moon

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The latest news from NASA is the discovery and imaging of a new moon orbiting Saturn. Scientists at JPL anticipated this find when earlier photos showed scalloped waves in the ring structure of Saturn, caused by the gravitational pull of an undiscovered mass within the Keeler Gap.
Saturn's New Moon
The Keeler gap is located about 250 kilometers (155 miles) inside the outer edge of the A ring, which is also the outer edge of the bright main rings. The new object is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) across and reflects about 50 percent of the sunlight light that falls upon it — a brightness that is typical of particles in the nearby rings. The new body has been provisionally named S/2005 S1

Scientists at JPL and the Space Science Institute (image processing center) in Colorado have been busy. Thousands of images from The Cassini spacecraft are being analyzed, and hundreds are presented for public viewing at the NASA Photo Archives. Here are a few pictures of Saturn’s other moons, and the best picture of Saturn (to date).

Saturn’s moon Enceladus, the most reflective body in our solar system. The surface of this moon is pure water ice.

This view shows one of the huge impact basins on the terminator of Saturn’s moon Iapetus and a smaller, but still fairly large, crater near the southern bright-dark boundary. Just visible near the western limb, in the dark territory of Cassini Regio, is the moon’s mysterious equatorial ridge. The ridge was discovered in Cassini images and reaches 20 kilometers (12 miles) high in places. This view shows principally the leading hemisphere on Iapetus. North is up and tilted 15 degrees to the right. Iapetus is 1,468 kilometers (912 miles) across.

Three Moons
A scene straight out of science fiction, this fantastic view shows, from left to right, Saturn’s moon’s Mimas, Dione and Rhea. The trailing hemispheres of all three moons are sunlit here, and wispy markings can be seen on the limbs of both Dione and Rhea. The diameter of Mimas is 397 kilometers (247 miles), Dione is 1,118 kilometers (695 miles) and Rhea is 1,528 kilometers (949 miles).

With this false-color view, Cassini presents the closest look yet at Saturn’s small moon Epimetheus.

This natural color composite was taken during the Cassini spacecraft’s April 16, 2005, flyby of Titan. It shows approximately what Titan would look like to the human eye: a hazy orange globe surrounded by a tenuous, bluish haze. The orange color is due to the hydrocarbon particles which make up Titan’s atmospheric haze.

Saturn’s moon Tethys turns like a great eye as the enormous crater Odysseus (450 kilometers or 280 miles across) rotates into Cassini’s view. Tethys is 1,071 kilometers (665 miles) across.

While cruising around Saturn in early October 2004, Cassini captured a series of images that have been composed into the largest, most detailed, global natural color view of Saturn and its rings ever made.

This grand mosaic consists of 126 images acquired in a tile-like fashion, covering one end of Saturn’s rings to the other and the entire planet in between. The images were taken over the course of two hours on Oct. 6, 2004, while Cassini was approximately 6.3 million kilometers (3.9 million miles) from Saturn. Since the view seen by Cassini during this time changed very little, no re-projection or alteration of any of the images was necessary.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

Also posted at VERMONT SPACE, where chickens run free.

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About Bennett Dawson

  • RJ

    Just wait a few thousand years after the radioactive dust has settled, and it’ll be safe enough for human explorers… 😉

  • Bennett

    Interesting idea RJ. So we could turn this shiny moon into… wait… it will come to me…. Chernobyl!


    Ouch, that’s some terraforming!

  • RJ

    Let’s nuke Enceladus until the H2O runs wet.

    I’m all about terraforming…