Cassini Dances with Nine Saturn Moons

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 20 (UPI) — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spent a busy three days capturing images of nine of Saturn’s moons, space agency officials said.

Particularly interesting were high-resolution images of the moons Dione and Rhea, the most detailed since the Voyager spacecraft visited them in the early 1980s, a NASA release said Wednesday.

From Oct. 14-17, Cassini glided past the moons Titan, Polydeuces, Mimas, Pallene, Telesto, Methone, Aegaeon, Dione and Rhea.

Images were taken of both Saturn’s largest moon Titan and one of its smallest, Pallene, only 3 miles wide.

Of the five biggest moons of Saturn, Dione and Rhea are often considered siblings because their orbits are close to each other and they exhibit similar patterns of light reflecting off them.

Scientists say the new high-resolution images of the two show while parts of Dione are heavily cratered like Rhea, there are other areas covered by relatively smooth plains that must have been resurfaced at some point in Dione’s past, an event that seems to be missing from Rhea’s geological history.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency and is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

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