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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ghostly image of two of Saturn's many moons, courtesy of Cassini

Two of Saturn's moons, Mimas and Pandora, line up perfectly in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. (NASA )
Saturn may be best known for its iconic rings, but the giant planet is also host to more than 53 moons, each one a fascinating and distinct world of its own.

In the ghostly image above, captured by NASA's Cassini mission, you can see two members of Saturn's massive moon family -- Mimas and Pandora -- glowing brightly above Saturn's smooth gray rings.

The large, round moon toward the top of the image is Mimas, the smallest of Saturn's major moons. It is 246 miles across, and scientists believe it is made almost entirely of water ice.

Cassini was approximately 690,000 miles away from Mimas when it took this image, but if you look closely you can still spot the enormous 80-mile wide crater that spreads over a large chunk of the moon's surface. (It looks like a divot on the right side of the moon).

Beneath Mimas, you'll see the oblong moon Pandora, which is just 52 miles across and shaped like a potato. Pandora's strange shape is a result of the moon not having enough gravity to pull itself into a sphere, according to NASA scientists.

You can't see it in this image, but Pandora is coated in dust-sized ice material that covers even its craters.

Cassini was 731,000 miles from Pandora when this image was taken.

Earlier this month, Cassini's hard-working cameras caught a glimpse of Earth as seen from 900 million miles away. Those images can make you feel small and insignificant, but in a kind of glorious way.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.trendsrtk.blogspot.in/2013/08/jupiter-like-low-mass-exoplanet-gj504b.html#.Uid1J3_xxKY
    Astronomers discovered a low-mass exoplanet GJ504b that shows how the bigger worlds are formed. It is appeared to be Jupiter-sized world called GJ504b found to be closer to the star's orbit. GJ504b weight consists of four times around than Jupiter's mass and it is also looking like sun-like star when seen through direct imaging techniques.
    The scientist says that it is nine times as far away to Jupiter in the solar system exactly.