Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Mimas and Saturn in cool blue

As reported in several places, the Cassini probe has recently captured an incredible image of Saturn's moon Mimas.

Saturn's moon Mimas is seen against the cool, blue-streaked backdrop of Saturn's northern hemisphere. The bright blue swath near Mimas is created by sunlight passing through the 'Cassini division'. The rightmost part of this distinctive feature is slightly overexposed and therefore bright white in this image. Shadows of several thin ringlets within the division can be seen here as well. The dark band that stretches across the centre of the image is the shadow of Saturn's B ring, the densest of the main rings. Part of the actual Cassini division appears at the bottom, along with the A ring and the narrow outer F ring. The A ring is almost transparent so that, from this viewing angle, the atmosphere and shadows cast by the inner C ring are visible through it.