Crash course?

It may look as though Saturn’s moon Mimas is crashing through the rings in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, but Mimas is actually 45,000 kilometres (28,000 miles) away from the rings. There is a strong connection between the icy moon and Saturn’s rings, though. Gravity links them together and shapes the way they both move.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute,

The gravitational pull of Mimas (396 kilometres or 246 miles across) creates waves in Saturn’s rings that are visible in some Cassini images. Mimas’ gravity also helps create the Cassini Division (not pictured here), which separates the A and B rings.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn hemisphere of Mimas. North on Mimas is up and rotated 15 degrees to the right. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 23 October 2016.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 183,000 kilometers (114,000 miles) from Mimas and at a Sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 29 degrees. Image scale is 1 kilometer (3,300 feet) per pixel.


Saturn: Exploring the Ringed Planet

Find out more about Saturn and its moons in this 196-page special edition from Astronomy Now.

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