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Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’

Saturn’s Two Largest Moons Line Up in New Photo

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/saturns-two-largest-moons-line-photo-123004531.html;_ylt=AsTeQH5sJ3xMr1eBY2fKRlSs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNpMGo5M3RrBG1pdAMEcGtnAzNmMWZiNTFiLWQ2Y2QtM2FiZC1iM2ZjLWIwYWE5NWYxNmE0MwRwb3MDMwRzZWMDbG5fTGF0ZXN0TmV3c19nYWwEdmVyAzQ5NDgyMDMwLTVhMmMtMTFlMS1iZjVkLTFmZmIyODYxYTc4MQ–;_ylv=3

By SPACE.com Staff
Space.com | SPACE.com – 52 mins ago

Saturn’s two biggest moons hang together in a stunning new photo from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

The image shows the heavily cratered Rhea in the foreground, while the hazy orb of the huge moon Titan looms in the distance. Cassini snapped the new Saturn moon photo in visible green light on Dec. 10, 2011, and it was released to the public on Monday (Feb. 13).

Cassini was about 808,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers) from Rhea and 1.2 million miles (2 million km) from Titan when it took the picture, researchers said.

Titan is the largest of Saturn’s many satellites; at 3,200 miles (5,150 km) wide, it’s nearly 1.5 times bigger than Earth’s moon. The only moon in our solar system larger than Titan is Ganymede, which orbits Jupiter.

Titan has a thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere that shrouds the frigid body in a soupy brown shroud. Complex organic molecules — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it — swirl about in this atmosphere.

The huge moon also has a hydrocarbon-based weather system, with methane rain falling from the sky and pooling in liquid-methane lakes. Astrobiologists speculate that Titan may be one of the best places in the solar system to search for life beyond Earth.

Rhea is Saturn’s second-largest moon, but it’s a shrimp compared to Titan, measuring just 949 miles (1528 km) across. As the new photo shows, Rhea’s icy surface is battered and pocked with many craters.

Like Titan, Rhea has an atmosphere. But Rhea’s is very different; it’s much wispier and composed primarily of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Researchers think the oxygen comes from Rhea’s surface ice, liberated from water molecules that get blasted apart by charged particles streaming from Saturn’s magnetosphere. The source of the carbon dioxide, however, is more mysterious.

Cassini launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004. It has been studying the ringed planet and its many moons ever since, and will continue to do so for years to come. Last year, NASA extended the probe’s mission to at least 2017.

Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcomand on Facebook.

 

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Flying By Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ Moon Mimas

Posted by Admin on December 24, 2011

http://www.space.com/10887-saturn-moon-mimas-photos-death-star.html

Flying By Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Mimas

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteSaturn’s moon Mimas is dominated by a huge, unmistakable crater called Herschel that makes the moon look like the Death Star in the movie “Star Wars.” On Feb. 13, 2010, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made closest-ever flyby of Mimas, returning this photo and others in spectacular flyby. Mimas is 246 miles (396 kilometers) across.

Mimas Is Also Space Pac-Man

Mimas Is Also Space Pac-ManCredit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSIThis figure illustrates the unexpected and bizarre Pac-Man like pattern of daytime temperatures found on Saturn’s small inner moon Mimas. The heat map was compiled from data recorded by the Cassini spacecraft during a Feb. 13, 2010 flyby of Mimas.

Herschel Crater on Mimas

Herschel Crater on MimasCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteThis mosaic, created from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest flyby of Saturn’s moon Mimas on Feb. 13, 2010, looks straight at the moon’s Herschel crater and reveals new insights about the moon’s surface. Herschel crater gives Mimas its “Death Star” appearance. It is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) wide.

Streaked Craters of Mimas

Streaked Craters of MimasCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteThis false-color view of Saturn’s moon Mimas from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft highlights terrain-dependent color differences and shows dark streaks running down the sides of some of the craters on the region of the moon that leads in its orbit around Saturn. The origin of the color differences (exaggerated by computer enhancement) is not yet understood.

Streaks and Markings on Saturn's Moon Mimas

Streaks and Markings on Saturn’s Moon MimasCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteRelatively dark regions below bright crater walls and streaks on some of the walls are seen in this mosaic of Saturn’s moon Mimas, created from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest flyby of the moon on Feb. 13, 2010

Mimas' Color Near Herschel Crater

Mimas’ Color Near Herschel CraterCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Subtle color differences on Saturn’s moon Mimas are apparent in this false-color view of Herschel Crater captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest-ever flyby of that moon on Feb. 13, 2010. The crater is 80 miles (130 kilometers) wide.

Mimas' Herschel Crater in 3-D

Mimas’ Color Near Herschel CraterCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Subtle color differences on Saturn’s moon Mimas are apparent in this false-color view of Herschel Crater captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest-ever flyby of that moon on Feb. 13, 2010. The crater is 80 miles (130 kilometers) wide.

Saturn's Moon Mimas: Three-Quarter Portrait

Saturn’s Moon Mimas: Three-Quarter PortraitCredit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Appearing like a cyclops gazing off into space, Saturn’s moon Mimas and its large Herschel Crater are profiled in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft taken on Feb. 13, 2010.

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