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Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Is Stunning in New Images of Planet's Rings

Published On 12/19/2016 Published On 12/19/2016
Stunning photo of Saturn's moon Mimas
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft has already returned incredible photos of Saturn. Now it's Saturn's moon Mimas spending some time in the limelight. The highly photogenic moon, often called the "Death Star" moon because of a distinctive crater that makes it look like the planet-sized tool of the Empire, is the focal point of new photos shared by NASA.

The above photo, taken by Cassini on Oct. 23, 2016 and just shared this week, shows Mimas at a distance of 28,000 miles from Saturn's rings. Despite the distance, Mimas looks like it could reach out and touch the rings. The spacecraft was about 114,000 miles away from the icy moon at the time of the photograph.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This older Cassini photo (above) was taken on the closest-ever flyby of the moon and gives a beautiful look at the Herschel crater, which spans 80 miles and is the reason for the "Death Star" moniker. The image is a composite of six images Cassini took on Feb. 13, 2010, at a distance of 5,900 miles. 

The Cassini spacecraft is a cooperative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency. It has been studying Saturn and its moons since 2004. Now, it's approaching the end of its lengthy mission and will do a death dive into the planet next fall after it travels between the planet and its rings, the first time a spacecraft has ever made that trek.

h/t Mashable

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.

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