Follow this link to skip to the main content

Sister Moons



Category: Moons > Large Moons

Dione and Tethys

Sister Moons
April 18, 2005
Full-Res: PIA06629

Cassini offers this lovely comparison between two of Saturn's satellites, Dione and Tethys, which are similar in size but have very different surfaces.

Extensive systems of bright fractures carve the surface of Dione (1,118 kilometers, or 695 miles across). The double-pronged feature Carthage Linea points toward the crater Turnus at the nine o'clock position near the terminator, and Palatine Linea runs toward the moon's bottom limb near the five o'clock position.

In contrast, the surface of Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across) appears brighter and more heavily cratered. The large crater Penelope is near the eastern limb. The huge rift zone Ithaca Chasma, which is 3 to 5 kilometers (2 to 3 miles) deep and extends for about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from north to south across Tethys, is hidden in shadow just beyond the terminator. For comparison, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) deep, and about 450 kilometers (280 miles) long.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 7, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometers (908,000 miles) from Tethys and 1.6 million kilometers (994,000 miles) from Dione. The image scale is 9 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel on Tethys, and 10 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel on Dione.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . For additional images visit the Cassini imaging team homepage http://ciclops.org .

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute




  • Blend space exploration with reading and writing -- Reading, Writing & Rings!
  • Cassini Scientist for a Day -- Students get involved
  • Cassini Raw Images