Cassini focuses on Saturn's battle-scarred moon Tethys


NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
Most moons in the solar system bear the scars of impact craters but few can compare with the violent past of Saturn's moon Tethys. One of its craters, named Odysseus (seen above at the right of the image), is so large that a comparably sized crater on Earth would be the size of Africa.

Tethys is just over 1,000 kilometres across, while the crater Odysseus is 450 kilometres in diameter – about 18% of the moon's surface area.

The Cassini spacecraft too this image in visible light on 11 April 2015 from about 190,000 kilometres away.

Tethys orbits Saturn at a distance of about 295,000 kilometres. It is believed to be composed mainly of water ice. It is thought to have formed from a disc of gas and dust that either existed around Saturn for some time after its formation.

In Greek mythology, Tethys was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia. The moon was named by astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini who discovered it, along with another of Saturn's moons Dione, in 1684.

Cassini had already discovered the two moons, Rhea and Iapetus in 1671–72, observing them all using a large aerial telescope he set up on the grounds of the Paris Observatory.

The fittingly named Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

You can find more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission here.

  1. http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
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