Cassini captures spectacular view of Saturn’s moon Daphnis

Cassini captures spectacular view of Saturn’s moon Daphnis

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Cassini spacecraft has captured stunning images of the Saturn moon Daphnis, providing the closest view of the small natural satellite obtained yet.

Cassini captured images of Daphnis while making one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of gaseous planet’s rings on Jan. 16, 2017.

Daphnis is merely 5 miles across, and it orbits Saturn within the 26-mile-wide Keeler Gap. The space probe’s viewing angle causes the gap to appear even narrower than it actually is. NASA explained that the gap narrowed in images because of foreshortening.

Gravity of the little Saturn moon raises waves in the edges of the Keeler Gap in the horizontal as well as vertical directions. In 2009, the spacecraft was able to observe its vertical structures, around the time of the planet’s equinox.

The images released by the space agency show the rings in fine details. A grainy texture is, in particular, seen in a number of wide lanes that hints at structures where particles are clomping together. A faint, narrow tendril of ring material is also seen following just behind to the left of the moon.

After exploring the inner space between Saturn and its rings, the probe’s extraordinary 20-year career will come to a close on September 15 of this year, when it intentionally dives into the clouds of the gas giant, burning up.


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