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Cassini Spacecraft Captures Image Of Saturn's Icy Moon Mimas Dwarfed By Massive Rings

First Posted: Nov 29, 2016 03:33 AM EST
Cassini Spacecraft Sends Picture Of Backlit Saturn
An image taken by Cassini spacecraft showed Saturn's icy moon was dwarfed by enormous rings. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : NASA/Handout/Getty Images)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft released an image of Saturn's icy moon known as "Mimas" dwarfed by enormous Saturn's rings. It was taken in red light with the Cassini wide-angle camera on July 21, 2016.

According to NASA, the scientists think that the rings are no more than a few times as massive as Mimas or probably just a fraction of Mimas' mass. Cassini spacecraft will yet identify the mass of Saturn's rings to within just a few hundredths of Mimas' mass when it will go closer to the rings.

Mimas is also referred to as Saturn I and an icy moon of Saturn. It has a diameter of 396 kilometers (246 miles) and considered as the smallest astronomical body. This icy moon of Saturn was discovered by William Herschel in 1789. Its name "Mimas" is derived after one of the Giants in Greek Mythology.

Meanwhile, the rings are made of small, icy particles that spread over a huge area. They are very thin, generally no thicker than the height of a house. On the other hand, besides their enormous proportions, they contain a small amount of material.

The image is viewed toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 6 degrees above the ring plane. It was obtained at about 564,000 miles (907,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft or phase, an angle of 31 degrees. The image scale is 34 miles or 54 kilometers per pixel.

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