Space and Physics

Beautiful Photo Of Saturn's Moon Tethys Reveals Strange Impact Crater

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Caroline Reid

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clockJul 29 2015, 00:19 UTC
1369 Beautiful Photo Of Saturn's Moon Tethys Reveals Strange Impact Crater
Pictured is Tethys, one of Saturn's moons, and its strange feature, seen at the top left. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

This is a beautiful new photograph of Tethys; one of Saturn's 62 known moons (although only 53 are named). The photograph was taken by the Cassini orbiter. 


The image highlights the remarkable Odysseus basin on the left side of the moon. This impact crater is much brighter than the rest of the moon, which is probably because this region has a different composition to its surroundings. It is possible that different mineral was exposed from deeper within the moon when the crater was formed. 

These details are only possible because Cassini, the spacecraft orbiting Saturn and its moons, can photograph images in more wavelengths than just visible. The image was created using a combination of ultraviolet, green and infrared light photos all superimposed on each other. 

The images were taken on May 9, 2015, when the Cassini orbiter was approximately 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) away from the moon. The resolution of the picture is around 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) per pixel, so there's a lot of detail packed into one little photograph! The right side of the moon, although dark, is still gently illuminated by the light of Saturn.

It is possible to see in this image that the diameter of the crater is about two-fifths the diameter of the moon itself. Such a large impact may have significantly altered the geological history of Tethys.

Space and Physics
  • Saturn,

  • moon,

  • crater,

  • tethys