Friday, April 15, 2005

Rev06 Icy Satellite Targets

In addition to the flyby of Titan on Saturday, today's periapsis offers a few non-targeted icy satellite opportunities as well. First up is Rhea. Images of Rhea on this pass are already on the JPL Raw images page.

This 1.5 km/pixel image shows the ray crater, first hinted at by Voyager, but now best seen by Cassini. This image shows the ray's of the ray crater in much more detail than in images take last month, that although they were higher resolution than this image, showed the crater much closer to the terminator where topographic shading trumps albedo markings. Now the crater is a bit farther than the terminator, giving scientists a better look at the rays, perhaps allowing for the idenitification of secondaries from this crater (though this maybe limited given the available resolution). This image is also farther south than last month's observations, providing a closer look at Rhea's southern hemisphere. More Rhea images should be forthcoming.

The next target for Cassini on this orbit is Mimas. The closest approach to Mimas was last night, providing Cassini's best look at this satellite to date. The previous opportunity in January gave us a great look at Herschel on the terminator, a possible ray crater on Mimas, and a more head-on view of Herschel and a canyon system to its east. The highest resolution of these images from Rev 0C had a pixel scale of 970 meter/pixel while at closest approach, the best Mimas images from this encounter could have resolutions in the 500 meter/pixel range given a range of 84,000 km.


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