Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mimas, Enceladus, and Rhea images

On the Gregg Williams' link I gave below, not only does he have a color version of today's press released image, but he also has false color images of Mimas and Enceladus, as well as a clear filter mosaic of Rhea, all taken the weekend after the Huygens landing. Not to put down Rhea, but the Mimas and Enceladus images really steal the show here. The Mimas image shows the comparatively large crater Herschel near the terminator, allowing just the rim and the central peak to catch sunlight. A great image of this "Death Star" moon. The Enceladus image are also great, revealing a grooved landscape almost completely devoid of craters (though there are some craters elsewhere on the satellite). Certainly a key question for the two Enceladus flybys over the next two months is why Enceladus can have such geologically modified areas as we see here and in images taken by Voyager 2, yet have relatively ancient terrain elsewhere on the satellite. I suspect the answer will be a bit more complicated than Ganymede, Mars, and the Moon, three other places with relatively ancient and relatively young regions on the same world. The Rhea mosaic is nice but unfortunately Rhea suffers from "Boring Sibling Syndrome". Rhea has a similar size and mass to Iapetus, yet the former lacks the giant equatorial ridge, the multiple impact basins, and most importantly, the prominent hemispheric albedo asymmetry the latter possesses.


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