October 7, 2010
This enhanced-color view of Saturn’s moon Mimas was made from images obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. It highlights the bluish band around the icy moon’s equator. The view shows the hemisphere that faces forward in Mimas’ orbit around Saturn. The large round gouge on the surface is Herschel Crater.
This composite image was made by processing raw images obtained by Cassini's imaging cameras from 2004 to 2009. Scientists analyzed frames shot through visible-light, ultraviolet and infrared filters. The processing enhanced our views of these moons beyond what could be seen by the human eye.
The dark, bluish band around Mimas matches patterns one might expect if the surface were being irradiated by high-energy electrons that drift in a direction opposite to the flow of plasma in the magnetic bubble around Saturn. Scientists are still figuring out exactly what is happening, but the electrons appear to be zapping the Mimas surface in a way that matches the Pac-Man thermal pattern detected by Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer early in 2010.
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 in Washington. 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.