NASA's Cassini spaceraft captures Saturn's second largest moon Rhea as it shines in the sunlight.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's moon Rhea in all its glory.
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In the latest stunning image, the second largest moon of Saturn is exposed on the front and appears dazzling bright, making its surface look highly reflective in full sunlight. This is an unmistakable signature of water ice which has dominated most of Rhea’s surface.
Rhea is 1,527 kilometers across and is less than a third the size of Titan – the largest of Saturn’s 62 confirmed moons. The surface of the moon is heavily crated, indicating that it must have gone through significant geological evolution since its birth.
Rhea was discovered in 1672 by astronomer Giovanni Cassini and it was named after one of the characters from Greek mythology. Rhea is a small, icy object that is almost similar to its sister moons Dione and Tethys.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been observing Saturn, its faint ring system and its moon since 2004. The spacecraft has made several close flybys of Rhea over its more than decade-long mission. The primary objective is to probe the structure and geological composition of the moon by taking close-up images of the surface and by measuring its gravitational force. In addition, cameras aboard Cassini have been taking images far away from the object too.
This particular full-frontal view has been snapped at a distance of approximately 365,000 miles (587,000 kilometers) from Rhea with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 3, 2016. The data will help scientists to understand the chemical makeup of the moon whether it is homogeneous all the way through or whether it is differentiated into the layers of core, mantle and crust.
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Source: NASA Blog