Saturnian moons line up

Image showing the moons Rhea and Epimetheus with Saturn and its rings in the background.

Image showing the moons Rhea and Epimetheus with Saturn and its rings in the background.

This amazing black and white image shows two of Saturn’s moons, Rhea and Epimetheus, against a backdrop of the planet and its rings.

Saturn has more than 60 known moons, each a different size and orbiting at different distances from the planet. They orbit at different speeds, and often overtake each other, leading to views like this when the Cassini spacecraft’s camera is pointed in the right direction.

Although they look close, the two moons are actually far apart. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometres (746,000 miles) from Rhea, while Epimetheus is 400,000 kilometres further away at 1.6 million kilometres (994,000 miles).

The image gives a good indication of the scale of things in the Saturnian system. At 1,528 kilometres (949 miles) diameter, Rhea is by no means Saturn’s largest moon, yet it is more than one-tenth the width of Earth. Compare that with the huge bulk of Saturn in the background.

Epimetheus is tiny, only 113 kilometres (70 miles) wide.

At Cassini’s huge distance when it took this image, detail as small as 7 kilometres (4 miles) per pixel can be seen on Rhea, and 10 kilometres (6 miles) per pixel on Epimetheus.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute.

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