An Interesting Image of a Small Moon
28 July 2007


Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

NASA recently published a new image of Mimas, a small, intriguing moon of Saturn. The image was acquired by the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft. The image is an oblique view of the battered icy moon.

The image highlights many of the deep craters of Mimas. Its image shows the trailing side of Mimas. Like our Moon, Mimas (397 km across) keeps one side turned to its parent planet, and orbits Saturn in slightly less than one day!

The image was taken in blue light with Cassini's narrow-angle camera on 12 June 2007. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 614,000 km from Mimas. North on Mimas is up and rotated 44° to the right. Image scale is 4 km per pixel.

Mimas is famous for its giant impact crater, known as Herschel. Herschel is 130 km across or almost 1/3 the diameter of Mimas. Herschel is 10 km deep, and its walls are 5 km high. A mountain exists in the center of Herschel, rising to 6 km above the crater's floor.



The Giant Impact Crater Herschel
Credit: NASA/JPL

The collision that created Herschel may have been powerful enough to shatter Mimas. This is evidenced by the presence of fractures on the opposite side of the moon. The crater is named in honor of Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), who discovered Mimas in 1789.

In Greek mythology, Mimas was one of the Titans, giant siblings of the god Cronus (Saturn).     

Further Reading
The Cassini Mission Homepage

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist

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