Saturn’s Moon Daphnis Showed Up Just In Time For A Close-Up Pic
Saturn has 62 moons in total, out of which Daphnis is the smallest and possibly the most important. It is only 5 miles in diameter and orbits in the Keeler Gap region, towards the outer edge of Saturn's A ring. Recently, the NASA Cassini spacecraft captured a stunning image of Saturn's moon Daphnis with its narrow angle camera in green light (visible range).
Cassini captured the photographs from a distance of 17,000 miles, which is the closest ever. The image clearly depicts the narrow orbit (26-mile-wide Keeler Gap) of Daphnis and sheds light on its mighty role on Saturn's surface activities, Gizmodo reported.
Even though Daphnis is very small, its role is very important. Saturn is nine times as large as Earth, and Daphnis can be said a mere dot when compared to the size of the planet. However, its gravity helps in the generation of horizontal and vertical waves on Saturn's surface.
The Cassini spacecraft has been flying near Saturn, its rings and moons. It has been taking pictures of them. On May 1, 2005, Cassini observed Daphnis for the first time. Then, Daphnis was observed again in 2009. This time, it was near the planet's equinox. The image captured provided a first-time view of the vertical structures made as a result of Daphnis' gravitational force. Since then, scientists on Earth were hoping for a more closer view of the moon, according to Tech Times.
Saturn's Moon Daphnis Caught in Action
The image captured the narrow orbit of the moon, from the angle it was captured by Cassini projects, it looks likes that the gap was much more narrow and congested due to foreshortening. Though Daphnis has its own distinctive size, orbit and effects on Saturn, it shares some basic similarities with other moons of Saturn.
Just as Atlas and Pan, two Saturn's moons that orbit the outermost rings of the planet, Daphnis also has a ridge-like structure around its equatorial region. It also has a smooth mantle on its outermost surface, which is supposedly formed by the accumulation of fine particles coming off the rings.