The Great Basin
February 2, 2006
Plunging cliffs and towering mountains characterize the gigantic impact structure called Odysseus on Saturn's moon Tethys. The great impact basin lies before the Cassini spacecraft in one of the best views yet obtained.
Quite a few small craters are visible inside Odysseus (450 kilometers, or 280 miles across), making it clear that this is not a very young structure. However, a comparison of cratering density between the interior of Odysseus and the surrounding terrain should show whether the large basin is at least relatively young.
Odysseus is on the leading hemisphere of Tethys (1,071 kilometers, or 665 miles across). North is up and rotated 18 degrees to the right.
The image was taken in polarized ultraviolet light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 24, 2005 at a distance of approximately 196,000 kilometers (122,000 miles) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 85 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 1 kilometer (3,831 feet) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute