NASA has released images of Saturn’s moon, Rhea, which were taken by its Cassini spacecraft.
NASA’s Cassini took the images of Rhea during a flyby, using its narrow angle camera and a few fillers from its wide angle camera.
Rhea is Saturn’s second biggest moon after Titan. It spans some 950 miles across, which is less than a third of Titan’s diameter. Rhea also possesses very high reflective properties mainly caused by water ice that’s harder than rock on the moon’s extremely frigid surface battered by temperatures of -300 degrees Fahrenheit. Rhea is also heavily pockmarked by huge craters, which is a sign of the extremely ancient beginnings of the solar system.
The images that were taken by Cassini were high-def, hyper-color composite views of a battered moon that to our eyes would otherwise look mostly gray and white. The entire image was then generated by Heike Rosenberg and Tilmann Denk at Freie Universität in Berlin. The images were acquired during T-109, a targeted flyby of Titan. These images were captured when Cassini was moving into an equatorial orbit around Saturn after spending some time swinging high over the planet’s poles.
The image on the left is of Rhea from a distance of about 51,200 to 46,600 miles (82,100–74,600 km) and the right is a bit closer, made of images captured from about 36,000 to 32,100 miles (57,900–51,700 km).
Last month, NASA has also announced plans of launching a submarine.
The Cassini mission was launched in 1997 and is a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It arrived near Saturn in June 2004. So far it has explored Saturn and its incredibly varied system of rings and moons like no other mission before. It has contributed immensely to our understanding of not only Saturn but our entire solar system, and even the galaxy.
The Cassini mission will further go on for two and half years, by which time its fuel will get exhausted. Then it will descend through Saturn’s rings and then into its atmosphere, and eventually crash.